St. Louis schools are shutting down or dismissing students early out of concerns of rioting after a judge declared a former police officer not guilty in the shooting of a black man Friday.
Two public charter schools, the St. Louis Language Immersion and Lafayette Preparatory Academy, told parents to come pick up their children, citing concerns of safety, reports the St. Louis-Dispatch.
“We have learned that the Stockley verdict has been rendered not guilty. In light of the potential unrest in the city today, we will be dismissing ALL students at 3:00. This includes Middle School,” Lafayette Preparatory Academy said over Facebook. “Ensuring the safety of our students and families is our number one priority. If you feel it is in the best interest of your family, we encourage you to consider picking up your student/s earlier than 3:00.”
Activists promised “civil unrest” reminiscent of the Ferguson protests should a judge decide that former St. Louis officer Jason Stockley was not guilty of executing Anthony Lamar Smith. Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson found Stockley, who fatally shot Smith five times during a police chase, not guilty. Prosecutors argued that Stockley planted a gun in Smith’s car after the shooting.
Catholic schools in the area announced Thursday they would be shutting down before the verdict was even reached.
“Given the uncertainty of (human) responses to the pending verdict… we have made the decision to cancel school on Friday,” wrote Cardinal Ritter President Tamiko Armstead and Principal Michael Blackshear Thursday.
It’s not clear how the protests will go, but authorities remain concerned about how intense the protests will be in light of a clergy’s announcement last week.
“Any decision rendered by you other than a guilty verdict will make you liable for any ensuing unrest or acts of aggression,” 25 St. Louis clergy members wrote. “In biblical terms, ‘the blood will be on your hands.’”
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