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US police arrest more than 80 people in St. Louis demonstrations

Police in the US city of St. Louis arrested more than 80 people Sunday night for taking part in violent protests for the third consecutive night after the court acquitted a white policeman who shot dead a young black man.

Police equipped with riot gear used pepper spray to disperse demonstrators and arrested a number of those who defied orders to disperse after a peaceful demonstration.

After dark, a small group of protesters stayed and turned the place into chaos, as on Friday and Saturday. Demonstrators smashed the facades and tried to close a side road leading to a highway, police and witnesses said.

Police clashed with violent demonstrators before mass arrests began.

“The vast majority of the demonstrators are not violent,” Lida Croson, mayor of the city, told a late-night press conference, accusing a “group of troublemakers” of stirring up trouble.

“We control (the situation), this is our city and we will protect it,” said Police Commissioner Lawrence Ottol.

“This is no longer a peaceful demonstration,” St. Louis police said on Twitter.

On Sunday, the largest of the three nights, more than 1,000 protesters took part in the rally, prompting the police to deploy their largest force, and elements carrying riot gear roamed the streets.

Police ordered a group of press photographers to line up on the wall, including Keni Bar, who was covering for Reuters and broadcast live on Facebook and was shackled by police when he was stopped. Police released the photographers about 30 minutes later.

The protests began in St. Louis after the court of former police chief Jason Stockley, 36, acquitted on Friday of first-degree murder in the killing of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011.


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