ST. LOUIS (AP) – The latest on demonstrations following the acquittal of a former St. Louis police officer:
The owner of a St. Louis-area pizzeria chain and a police union leader are seeking to arrange a meeting after the restauranteur’s social media criticism of officers led to a boycott and hundreds of angry phone calls.
Pi Pizzeria owner Chris Sommers says his restaurants have received hundreds of “ugly” phone calls since he criticized police on Friday. That was the day former police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of first-degree murder in the death of a black man, setting off demonstrations.
Sommers posted messages and video critical of the way police responded to protests.
The group Blue Lives Matter posted an account of Sommers’ criticism, and many police supporters have made angry calls to Sommers’ restaurants.
Jeff Roorda of the St. Louis Police Officers Association says he is willing to meet with Sommers. Roorda says the union has suffered backlash, too, including vandalism at its headquarters.
President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist is scheduled to appear Sunday at a rally in St. Louis, a city still in the midst of protests following the acquittal of a white former police officer in the shooting death of a black man.
Protest organizer Cori Bush declined Thursday to speculate whether protesters will gather at Steve Bannon’s appearance.
Bannon is scheduled to receive an award Sunday from Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagles, a spinoff of the conservative think tank Eagle Forum. He is later expected to appear at the organization’s “Put America First Rally.”
A spokeswoman for Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagles says the rally was planned long before the spate of protests that began Friday, when a judge found Jason Stockley not guilty in the 2011 death of Anthony Lamar Smith.
Schlafly was a conservative icon who died last year aged 92.
Protesters held up a banner, yelled and projected a video showing officers arresting St. Louis protesters during a meeting to gather public input about the search for a new police chief.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that about 120 people attended a forum at a recreation complex involving members of a citizen advisory committee. The forum was planned before a judge last week acquitted a white police officer in the fatal shooting of a black man.
Former Chief Sam Dotson retired five months ago as Mayor Lyda Krewson was sworn into office. Lawrence O’Toole has been serving as interim chief.
Richard Buthod was among the speakers. He told the committee that people are getting “anxious” and “impatient,” but that it is important to pick a replacement “right,” not “fast.”
Another protest is planned for Thursday evening in St. Louis, but this time, the demonstrators are expected to be largely white.
Organizers have called a “White Allies Only” rally for 6:30 p.m. at Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis. Protest organizer Cori Bush says the goal is to show that there are many white people who support the Black Lives Matter movement.
The protest is the latest of several since last Friday, when a judge acquitted former police officer Jason Stockley, who is white, in the 2011 shooting death of a black man, 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith.
The Thursday night protest is set to take place just blocks from Busch Stadium, where Billy Joel is scheduled to perform. Busch Stadium officials say security plans are in place but have declined to offer specific details.
There have been more fatal police shootings in St. Louis in 2017 than for a decade with three months still left until year’s end.
The new data comes as the city’s police department struggles to contain daily protests following the acquittal of white former police officer in the killing of a black suspect.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that police have fatally shot eight people so far this year, up from five in all of 2016. Police say all of them were armed.
Police have also shot and wounded seven people.
Lt. Col. Rochelle Jones attributed the rise in police shootings to the rise in violent crime. But the Rev. Phillip Duvall, who has been active in recent protests, says the data suggests police are “not being too cautious.”
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