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Police defend their actions amid protest arrest concerns

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Two St. Louis-area police agencies are defending their actions in arresting nearly two dozen protesters at a mall, amid complaints that the demonstrators were taken down forcefully, including a female pastor allegedly put in a chokehold.

A Saturday protest at the St. Louis Galleria in Richmond Heights, Missouri, was one of several since mid-September, when a judge acquitted former police officer Jason Stockley in the death of a black suspect.

A group of elected officials and faith leaders plan a news conference Monday to criticize what they’re calling “military tactics” used by police.

St. Louis County and Richmond Heights police say their actions were justified. They say the Rev. Karla Frye had to be pulled off the back of an officer she had assaulted, and that she was not choked.