The Republican governor of Missouri warned St. Louis protesters Saturday night that police officers would no longer stand by and watch if they continue to destroy businesses during their protests.
Gov. Eric Greitens told protesters they could expect to be arrested and charged if they destroy property as they continue to march against a judge’s verdict finding former officer Jason Stockley not guilty of murder. Stockley, a white police officer, was charged in the fatal shooting of a black driver, following a police chase.
“In the past, our leaders let people break windows, loot, start fires. They let them do it. Not this time. Tonight, the police arrested the vandals. At this moment, they’re all sitting in a jail cell. They’re gonna wake up and face felony charges,” Greitens said in a Saturday night Facebook post. “These aren’t protesters, these are criminals.”
St. Louis has been rocked with protests ever since Stockley was found not guilty in the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith. For the past two days, people have taken to the streets in anger over the verdict. Rioters threw rocks at the mayor’s house Friday night and burned the American flag. Eleven officers were injured Friday night with injuries ranging from a broken jaw to a head injury from a thrown brick.
“We had leaders who wanted to give people a safe space to loot and to burn,” Greitens told Fox News Sunday. “Now in Missouri if you loot the only safe space you’re going to have is in a jail cell.”
The city of St. Louis is preparing itself for a third day of protests as protesters are expected to start in front of the police department Sunday afternoon.
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