Florissant protest

Protestors near the Florissant Police Department on Sunday evening. Photo by Lawrence Bryant

When protestors shut down busy Lindbergh Blvd. in front of the Florissant Police Dept. Monday evening, it was the second visit in one day at police headquarters to demand the firing of an officer currently suspended because of his involvement in an apparent police brutality incident in nearby Dellwood, which was caught on video.

Ring video from Tuesday night, June 2 from a Dellwood residence shows a Florissant detective, Joshua Smith, striking an unarmed black man who was running away with his police vehicle, then beating him as he lay on the ground while being apprehended.

Protestors began demonstrating at the Florissant Police Department over the weekend when the video was released by Real STL News. At the first protest on Monday, June 8, clergy and St. Louis NAACP members gathered at the Florissant Police Department, calling for the dismissal of the Florissant detective who weaponized his vehicle to apprehend the 20-year-old man.

“Even if the climate wasn’t as it is, right is right and wrong is wrong,” Rev. Darryl Gray said. “If any of us had committed the same action as what the police committed, we would be in jail now.”

Minister Carole Jackson, a retired University City police commander, said Missouri had the highest rate for racial profiling and the law is broken here.

“You did a crime and now you’re going to get paid to sit at home,” Jackson said about the policeman, who is suspended with pay while the incident is investigated. “I am sick of my profession that I laid my life down for 38-plus years being hijacked by racism and all the mess that’s going on. I’m tired of it.”

Pastor Larita Rice-Barnes said police need to be examined for mental health issues regularly to make sure that they are fit to be on the force. She visited Minneapolis for the memorial of George Floyd.

“The law that’s supposed to protect us is used against us as black people,” Rice-Barnes said.

The clergy has been at protests standing in between the protests and police. Two other officers are being investigated for the incident. The clergy says any cops at the scene who did not stop the violence that occurred should also be charged.

The peaceful demonstrators say they plan to protest at the Florissant Police Dept. until the police officers are fired and charged. At 6 p.m. Monday, protestors shut down Lindbergh outside the Florissant police headquarters. Protestors stepped onto the street as cars were still driving by and spread across the entire road.

Protestor Henry L. Logan told demonstrators, “We’re going to stand there for eight minutes and 46 seconds.” Yet, protestors stood on the street for much longer. As protestors gathered on the streets, chanting together and waving signs and fists in the air, a long line of cars started to form on Lindbergh. Most of the cars pulled into the nearby strip mall to turn around, and some drove by honking and shouting at the protestors for blocking off the street.

Last night, demonstrators gathered who were in front of the police department marched to Florissant Mayor Tim Lowery’s house, which was guarded by police. Police reportedly removed the mayor from his home beforehand, but protestors lined up on the edge of the property occupying the public street in front of nine police officers lining the house. Leader and organizer Bishop Derrick Robinson addressed the Florissant mayor by talking to the doorbell camera, which is the same kind of camera used to expose Joshua Smith.

“We know you’re watching,” Robinson said. “We will continue to show up in your city every day.”

Robinson said protestors want the officer fired, arrested, charged and convicted. After leaving, protestors chanted, “We will be back” throughout the neighborhood. Robinson then led the marchers to New Florissant Road and Lindbergh, where protestors participated in a 2-minute die-in and moment of silence.

This case is being investigated by St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar because there was a conflict of interest involving a staffer at St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell’s office.

Lomar told reporters Monday that he too saw the video over the weekend. “What I saw was shocking and disturbing, but that’s all I know,” Lomar said. “There’s a lot more to it that we need to know before we get to the bottom of it and know what the truth is.” He also said there is a second Ring video from across the street that investigators will observe. “What I’ve seen so far doesn’t look good.”

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