Stockley protesters march inside West County Mall

A few hundred people protesting the acquittal of a white former police officer in the killing of a black man flooded an upscale suburban mall briefly before heading out, with plans to reassemble in downtown St. Louis.

Authorities were taking steps to close West County Center in Des Peres shortly before noon Saturday before protesters left. Many stores did close and pulled metal security screens over their shop fronts.

Several hundred protesters met Saturday morning in a suburban park to plan next steps. They forced members of the media to stand away from them, over the objections of the reporters, including one from the Associated Press. At that meeting, they devised the plan to meet at the mall.

Police generally stayed a step ahead of protesters on Friday, preventing them from disrupting high-traffic areas. Rather than march to the mall Saturday, protesters took separate cars from the park and showed up at the mall an hour later.