ST. LOUIS – The request by St. Louis leaders to have the U.S. attorney’s office investigate police conduct at protests has been referred to the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that in a letter on Wednesday, Acting U.S. Attorney Carrie Costantin says the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division handles investigations that focus on officer discipline and training. It’s not clear if the Justice Department will investigate St. Louis police.
More than 300 arrests have been made during protests since a judge’s mid-September acquittal of white former police officer Jason Stockley in the 2011 shooting death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith, a black drug suspect.
Police have drawn criticism for using force and chemicals in some arrests. Mayor Lyda Krewson and interim police Chief Lawrence O’Toole asked for an independent federal investigation.
On Friday night, protesters took to the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb where the fatal 2014 police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, sparked months of protests. The Post-Dispatch reports that several dozen people marched on West Florissant Avenue, chanting and carrying “Black Lives Matter” signs in a scene reminiscent of some demonstrations that occurred after Brown’s death.
The group stopped outside the Ferguson Market and later headed to the Ferguson police headquarters on South Florissant Road, where some shouted at officers who stood guard outside.
No arrests were reported.
“It was definitely time to come back here and pay homage to what happened in these streets,” said 27-year-old protester LaShell Eikerenkoetter. “That is the reason we are still going today.”
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