CLAYTON, Mo. (KMOX) – The term “police riot” has entered the local lexicon in relation to the on-going Stockley protests across the St. Louis region.
22 people were arrested during a demonstration at the mall in Richmond Heights Saturday, with charges eventually brought against seven of them.
During Tuesday night’s meeting of the St. Louis County Council more than two dozen people, many saying they had been taking part in the Galleria demonstration, complained to the council about their treatment at the hands of police.
“I’m a PTSD survivor and what I was put through and what I saw on Saturday and Sunday, those 24 hours, was very triggering,” one woman said. “I was denied my medication.”
Others told the council that the Galleria protest was peaceful and that the only violence was carried out by arresting officers.
Police watchdog John Chasnoff was also at the mall protest and said what he witnessed was by definition a “riot” — not by protestors, but by arresting officers.
“The definition is that six or more people agree to violate criminal laws with violence or force,” he said. “And that’s exactly what I saw happen. The warning was completely inadequate. I heard it but I could tell that other folks hadn’t.”
He’s talking about the order to disperse that police give out before making arrests.
Almost to a person those testifying during the council meeting’s public comment period said that they were not able to hear the dispersal order over the chanting of demonstrators, and those who did hear it claimed that fewer than a handful of seconds went by before officers began moving in to make arrests.
Missouri state representative Stacey Newman (D-87) made a request before the council.
“We are formally asking you for an independent investigation into the incident at the St. Louis Galleria on Saturday, September 23rd,” she explained. “We request that this investigation be performed by an independent, experienced legal investigator who is outside St. Louis County government.”
She said that a letter making that request and signed by various area lawmakers and clergy members was being sent to the U.S. Justice Department.
“We strongly urge you as St. Louis County officials to conduct an investigation of your own,” Newman said.
It was an idea that county council chairman Sam Page seemed very willing to consider.
“I think a lot of us are very unhappy with the way things unfolded in the Galleria, and we’re not done talking about it,” Page insisted. “I hope over the past few years we’ve learned that aggressive police methods are counter-productive. I believe we need more listening and less aggression.”
He said that the request for an independent probe of police actions at the Galleria would be taken under advisement.