It’s been a case of déjà vu for the St. Louis area over the past week.
Last Friday a judge ruled that Jason Stockley, a white police officer, was not guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man, in December 2011.
The acquittal prompted protesters to flood the streets of St. Louis just as they had done three years earlier after a grand jury acquitted Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson, Missouri.
Once again, some protesters clashed with police. Officers made more than 80 arrests on Sunday night alone, the third consecutive night of protests.
Jeff Roorda, a retired St. Louis-area police officer and current business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, has had an up-close and personal view of the protests.
He said they have been essentially nonstop since last Friday. He described the situation to WND as like playing “Whack-a-Mole” with the protesters: As soon as police disperse protesters in one location, they pop up somewhere else in the city.
Protesters have chanted “No justice, no profits,” indicating they seek to disrupt the local economy. They have targeted affluent areas and places known to be economic hotspots around the area, according to the Associated Press.
Some have also chanted, “Whose streets? Our streets!” But shortly after making a round of arrests Sunday night, police officers turned the tables on the protesters, chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Roorda, author of “The War on Police: How the Ferguson Effect is Making America Unsafe,” has no problem with the police co-opting the protesters’ chant.
“What’s the alternative?” he asked. “It’s either the police own the streets or criminals own the streets. There’s nothing in between.”
Roorda said a U2 concert and an Ed Sheeran concert have been canceled in the past week due to the protests. However, Billy Joel went ahead with a planned concert in the city on Thursday night. Roorda was thrilled the iconic singer didn’t give in to terror.
“To see Billy Joel on stage holding an NYPD coffee mug was very heartening for me and police officers and the law-abiding citizens who support us,” he said.
While support from Billy Joel is welcome, Roorda said he and other St. Louis-area police officers would also like to receive some overt support from the president of the United States.
It’s not that he doesn’t believe Trump supports law enforcement officers over criminals; the president has voiced his support for police in the past. Furthermore, Roorda recognizes Trump has had a busy week, with natural disasters, the North Korean threat and a major speech at the United Nations.
Nevertheless, a little support would be meaningful.
“Here’s the critical thing: Our guys are standing out in the street having bricks and bottles pelted at them, being subjected to the most horrible conditions, being called terrible names, particularly the black officers who are always treated worse in these situations, and it’s good for my guys to hear from people, particularly people at the highest levels of government, that they support them,” Roorda said. “Even if it’s just kind platitudes, vocalizing that support goes a long way.”