Back in the beginning of August a trial began for Jason Stockley, a white police officer accused of killing Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. Stockley had waived his right to a jury trial in favor of a bench trial, so after the trial ended the entire city waited for the judge to issue his verdict. On Friday it was announced...Not Guilty.
The judge also issued a 30 page ruling that described his reasons for the judgment. I read it, and thought it seemed logical and reasonable. However, not everyone thought so. There had already been rumblings of protests if there was an acquittal. Sure enough, within a couple of hours of the verdict a group assembled downtown. Things started off peacefully, but later in the day the demonstrators smashed the windshield of a police vehicle and threw rocks, water bottles and other items. The police responded by using tear gas to disperse the crowds. All weekend groups of protesters have popped up in different neighborhoods, malls, and festivals. So far there hasn't been any major violence, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it stays that way.
With the entire metropolitan area on edge, events started being cancelled right and left. Tonight Hubby Tony and I were going to attend the Moonlight Ramble, a nighttime bike ride through the city. By lunchtime on Friday we received emails that it was a no-go. Just about every venue downtown or close to downtown (including the Symphony and concerts by U2 and Ed Sheeran), followed suit, citing the fact that the police department wasn't in a position to provide the standard amount of protection.
This afternoon Tony and I discussed what we wanted to do with the now-open evening. We tentatively settled on a jazz festival in an area we were pretty sure protesters wouldn't come to, but first we wanted to attend Mass and a reception for one of our priests who is leaving. We got busy talking at the reception and by time we got home all thoughts of going out again had disappeared. Probably just as well.
More than likely some sort of protests will take place again tomorrow. I hope with the start of the work week on Monday things will start getting back to normal.
Five years ago today: Basement Memories