Protesters in St. Louis have marched for a fourth night over the acquittal of a white former police officer in the fatal shooting of a black man. More than 120 people were arrested over the weekend.
A large crowd gathered outside the prison in St. Louis, Missouri, overnight to call for the release of protesters still in police custody. Earlier, several hundred people also marched peacefully through the city's downtown, while high school students in at least two districts also joined a demonstration.
Police said there were no arrests or incidents, following a weekend in which peaceful protests turned violent three nights in a row.
Some 123 people were arrested on Sunday for failing to disperse, officers said. Some of them have been released, but protesters chanting "free our people" outside the jail Monday night said many were still behind bars 24 hours later.
Organizers said they planned to hold another rally on Tuesday.
Three nights of rioting
The protests began on Friday after a judge ruled there was not enough evidence to convict former police officer Jason Stockley of murdering Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man, following a car chase in 2011.
Although the daytime demonstrations were mainly peaceful, after dark protesters clashed with riot police and there were reports of vandalism and property damage.
"The days have been calm and the nights have been destructive," Mayor Lyda Krewson told a news conference after Sunday's unrest, adding that "destruction cannot be tolerated."
On Sunday night, hundreds of officers amassed at one intersection and arrested more than 80 people who they said had not followed orders to disperse. Among those arrested was a journalist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper, who reported that he could not follow orders because police had blocked the crowd in.
"We are closed in on all four sides now I have no idea where people are supposed to go. People freaking out," reporter Mike Faulk wrote on Twitter prior to his arrest. Faulk said several officers knocked him down and a foot pushed his head into the pavement before an office squirted pepper spray in his face.
Video footage circulating on social media also suggested that officers had chanted "Whose streets? Our streets"—a refrain used by the demonstrators themselves—as they moved protesters on. St. Louis police said the reports were being investigated.
St. Louis was also the scene of violent protests in 2014 following the police killing of black teenager Michael Brown in the suburb of Ferguson. The case put the national spotlight on the often difficult relationship between the city's black communities and its police force.
nm/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP)