Louis area protestors are unrelenting. Direct actions have seen groups demonstrate in St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles. The thousands who have march and held direct action were originally a part of the global outcry against the killing of George Floyd by a now former Minneapolis police officer who has since been charged with second degree murder – and his colleagues charged with aiding and abetting.
But by the first week of June there was a disturbing incident within the region that made their messages and chants that made their calls for an end to police violence against people of color hit home.
Security video footage of now fired Florissant detective hitting a Black man with an unmarked police SUV before violently arresting him in Dellwood presented a new focus within the actions that focused primarily on Floyd, but also Breonna Taylor. The video was obtained and released by Real STL News. Cop Blaster was the first to identify Joshua Smith as the detective seen running down the man during the arrest.
A week after protest group Respect Us promised to return to the Florissant Police Department every day until Smith was arrested and charged, Smith was arrested and charged with 1st Degree Assault, a Class A felony. Smith’s bond was set at $50,000.
St. Charles Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar at a press conference held at 11:30 a.m on June 17th and announced that Smith had been arrested and charged.
Protestors were on hand for the announcement. They learned from the victim’s attorney Jerryl Christmas that Smith had already been bailed out.
The group that had gathered outside the St. Louis County Justice Center shut down Forest Park Parkway.
Respect Us protest leader Bishop Derrick Robinson claimed that three cars attempted to push past them as they demonstrated outside the Florissant Police Department from June 18 – June 20.
One of those who fell during an alleged attempted push through was a woman who goes by Mama Tina. She is a leading member of M.A.R.C.H STL (Mobile American Revolution Coalition Help) – a group that provides food, drinks and medical supplies to assist protesters at Respect Us protests.
According to Robinson, he and other protestors pressed charges against the drivers.
As Respect Us protested police violence in Florissant and St. Charles, Expect Us rallied to close The Workhouse on June 18th. About 200 protesters gathered and listened to guest speakers from the Close the Workhouse campaign – which includes primary organizational partners Action St. Louis, ArchCity Defenders, and Bail Project St. Louis.
“There is no halfway to justice, it's all or nothing” said Kayla Reed, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Action St. Louis.
A shared theme across the protest organizations is their adoption toward the “Five Point Plan For Our Future STL” which includes the following list of demands:
- Defund the police
- Disarm, decommission and dismiss
- Close the workhouse
- Make reparations
Over the course of their relentless protests, Respect Us was joined by Ferguson activist Mike Avery. Earlier this month he was arrested and charged with inciting a riot based on Facebook posts he made while demonstrating in Minneapolis immediately after video footage of Floyd’s death went viral and lead to protests there. The charges against Avery have since been dismissed – though he expressed on Facebook that he still feels like a political prisoner.
On June 23, more than 100 protested with Respect us to call for the two detectives that accompanied Smith be fired, arrested and charged. The next day, it was announced that those detectives wouldn’t be fired or charged. Respect Us once again expressed their outrage through protest – and again promised that they will remain in the streets until they feel that justice is served.