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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two St. Louis-area police agencies are defending their actions in arresting nearly two dozen protesters at a mall amid complaints that the demonstrators were taken down forcefully, including a female pastor allegedly put in a chokehold.

A protest Saturday at the St. Louis Galleria in Richmond Heights, Missouri, was one of several since mid-September when a judge acquitted former police officer Jason Stockley in the death of a black drug suspect.

Media and social media photos of the arrests generated concerns, and a group of elected officials and faith leaders planned a news conference Monday to criticize what they’re calling “military tactics” used by police.

Both St. Louis County and Richmond Heights police said their actions were justified.

The protest began with about 150 people marching without incident through the upscale mall. Things took a turn when some protesters blocked an escalator and demonstrators sought to go the second floor, against the wishes of mall management.

Someone threw a trash can at officers. Richmond Heights Capt. Gerry Rohr used a bullhorn to announce that the protest was no longer peaceful and the crowd must disperse. He said Monday he issued the same warning two additional times over several minutes as St. Louis County police arrived to assist.

Rohr said most of the protesters left, but the 22 who remained were arrested. Seven were charged with rioting and resisting arrest, and some had to be subdued, Rohr said.

One of them was the Rev. Karla Frye of St. Peter AME Church in St. Louis. A St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer took pictures showing Frye on the back of a St. Louis County officer as he appears to be making an arrest. Another photo shows Frye being arrested. Protesters said the second photo showed her being choked by an officer.

Rohr and St. Louis County police spokesman Shawn McGuire denied Frye was being choked. They said the photo showed a Richmond Heights officer pulling her away from the county officer she had jumped on, a man who is still off work with a back injury that resulted, McGuire said.

“She assaulted a police officer,” McGuire said. “When she jumps on the back of a police officer while affecting an arrest, that’s an assault.”

Rohr said the photo was misleading.

“She was not placed in a chokehold,” Rohr said. “That’s burst photography. I guarantee the officer was trying to push that woman away and get her under control.”

Frye faces assault and other charges. The 15 protesters not charged with state crimes have been referred to Richmond Heights Municipal Court for local citations, police said.

Nearly 200 people have been arrested since protests began following the judge’s ruling on Sept. 15. Police tactics were also questioned on Sept. 17 in the city of St. Louis, when more than 120 people were arrested after windows were broken at several businesses. Some of those arrested for “failure to disperse” were just onlookers, including a Post-Dispatch journalist.

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(Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

(Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

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10 thoughts on “Police Defend Their Actions In Missouri Protest Arrests

  1. ResponsibilityInControl on said:

    The people are protesting which all started over the shooting death of a convicted felon street thug drug dealer? Seriously we couldn’t find a better cause to protest for? Had he killed someone while fleeing police what would be the scenario? He didnt pull a gun that was proven to had been planted by the cop in question.

    • Dr. Larry on said:

      Responsibility, you know I got your back, but it was not proven that the fun was planted. Even the judge said it would be unlikely if a thugging, baggy pants, drug dealer didn’t go about his bidness without a gun. Nonetheless, this is the best they can do, because law abiding blacks don’t get gunned down by police. Fact

  2. Dr. Larry on said:

    Jump on an officers back and you got whatever happens to you. Again, we are protesting for a drug selling thug who pulled a gun on a cop after a high speed chase. We gotta do better Peeps

  3. Well, at least I don’t think we have to worry about Mee-Maw hopping on the back of another police officer. Maybe she thought that halo hanging over her head would allow her to act like a goon and walk away without a scratch. Oh well. Live and learn.

    • African American Woman on said:

      Mee-Maw!!! Its so sad that too many black people have come under the understanding that there is no repercussions for their actions…They do whatever they feel and then cry racism when they are held accountable…I think I’ll jump on a cop’s back when I get off of work and I’ll let you all know how things turn out…I’ll be the poster with inmate next to my name.

  4. St Louis Pigs are running amok in our community and DISRESPECTING US.
    There was NO NEED to put a woman of God in a damn chokehold.

    I am sick and tired of reading/hearing about PIGS who have no RESPECT for people of color
    and only see us as animals that need to be beaten down into submission!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • African American Woman on said:

      Ummmm…maybe some black folks need to stop acting like animals…Let me see someone jump on your back and let’s see how peaceful and calm you stay.

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