ST. LOUIS – Two years ago this week, protests from downtown St. Louis to the Central West End exploded following the Jason Stockley not guilty decision was handed down.
Tuesday, a federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of five local residents against the City of St. Louis and over 340 St. Louis police officers over the use of a crowd controlling tactic known as kettling.
The 75-page suit says officers either violated or conspired to violate the constitutional rights of 123 protestors who were pepper-sprayed and arrested.
It also says police violated a 2015 consent decree that said police could not use chemical agents without a warning.
The suit says lawyers can’t name all of the officers involved because their tactical gear obscured their identities and the city still hasn’t provided an accurate list, even though it was two years ago, and there have been local and federal investigations into what happened that night.
In November 2017, U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry issued an order that says police must give specific dispersal orders explaining what area must be vacated and give people time and a way to leave the area.
She also ruled that kettling cannot meet constitutional standards.
Those arrested have testified that police orders were inaudible and vague and that they were pepper-sprayed and beaten while complying with police orders.
Police said they needed to be able to clear the streets and send protestors home, and that protestors against police were treated no differently than others.