- Jennifer Brett, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
U2 decided to cancel a concert planned for tonight in St. Louis after Friday night protests following a former police officer’s acquittal in a shooting death became violent. Former officer Jason Stockley, who is white, was found not guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black.
Stockley shot and killed Smith following a high-speed chase in 2011, The Associated Press reported. Stockley and his partner tried to corner Smith in a fast-food restaurant parking lot after seeing what they said appeared to be a drug deal. Stockley testified that he saw what he believed was a gun, and his partner yelled “gun!” as Smith backed into the police SUV twice to get away, the AP reported.
Prosecutors alleged that Stockley, who left the police force in 2013, planted a gun in Smith’s car after he shot him. Stockley denied that and testified that he saw Smith holding a gun before the chase began, and that he felt he was in imminent danger when he opened fire, the AP reported.
A group of clergymen warned of unrest ahead of the verdict, should Stockley be found not guilty. What began as a peaceful protest left 10 officers injured, at least one vacant building ablaze, windows at a library smashed and Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home vandalized, according to updates from the city’s police and fire departments and media reports from the scene.
The AP reported that journalists were also injured:
“A freelance videographer for The Associated Press said a protester approached him Friday, took his camera and threw it to the ground, breaking the view finder. Later in the day while he was using a different camera, he said he was surrounded by six men who told him to put the camera away or he’d be beaten.
“Also Friday, a reporter for KTVI in St. Louis reported that a protester taunted him about the media, drawing a crowd. The reporter described the group as being angry and in his face, and said three water bottles were thrown at him.”
Krewson issued a statement Friday afternoon saying she was “appalled at what happened to Smith” and that she was “sobered” at the verdict while urging unity.
“I encourage St. Louisans to show each other compassion, to recognize that we all have different experiences and backgrounds and that we all come to this with real feelings and experiences,” she said. “We are all St. Louisans. We rise and fall together. As Mayor, I will continue my work to create a more equitable community and do everything possible to keep all St. Louisans safe.”
A statement regarding the concert:
“Live Nation and U2 regrettably announce their St. Louis show scheduled for tonight, September 16, 2017 has been cancelled, a statement from the band said. “We have been informed by the St. Louis Police Department that they are not in a position to provide the standard protection for our audience as would be expected for an event of this size. We have also been informed that local crowd security personnel would not be at full capacity.
“In light of this information, we cannot in good conscience risk our fans’ safety by proceeding with tonight’s concert. As much as we regret having to cancel, we feel it is the only acceptable course of action in the current environment.”
Fans who purchased tickets online will receive a refund on the credit card used to order them. Refunds for non-internet purchases will be available starting Monday at 10 a.m. at the point of purchase.