News World Ed Sheeran and U2 cancel St Louis shows as tensions mount over white cop’s acquittal

Ed Sheeran and U2 cancel St Louis shows as tensions mount over white cop’s acquittal

Protesters burn an American flag after what began as a peaceful demonstration became a rolling riot. AP / Jeff Roberson
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Protests over a US circuit court judge’s decision to acquit a white former police officer of murder in the shooting death of a black man caught on tape have spread in St Louis, Missouri.

A peaceful protest over Friday’s not guilty verdict turned violent in the early hours of Saturday after police confronted a small group of demonstrators – three years after the police shooting of another black suspect in the nearby suburb of Ferguson stirred nationwide anger and debate.

Officers fired tear gas as people broke windows at a library, a restaurant and a home and threw bricks and water bottles at officers. Eight officers were injured, police said.

The protests are ongoing, with tension at fever pitch in the racially divided city.

A group of protesters walked through a mall “chanting and singing,” and prompting police to close the entrance of the West Counter Center, located west of the city, according to the St Louis Post-Dispatch.

Another small group gathered at a mall in Chesterfield, Missouri, just west of St Louis, the paper reported.

The US Department of Justice said it would not pursue a civil rights investigation into the case.

“The Civil Rights Division concluded its own internal review and analysis in September, 2016, and agreed that the evidence did not support a prosecution under federal criminal civil rights statutes,” DOJ spokeswoman Lauren Ehrsam said in a statement.

The department made no formal statement at that time to avoid having any impact on the criminal case pending, the statement added.

A woman helps herself to some no-cost bling through the shattered window of a St Louis jewellery store.

Singer Ed Sheeran and Irish rockers U2 cancelled concerts scheduled for Saturday and Sunday night in St Louis, citing security concerns.

“Deeply saddened at what has happened in St Louis and having to cancel our show tonight,” U2 singer Bono said in a post on Instagram.

“I found myself reading Dr King’s speech from the National Cathedral and asking myself is this 1968 or 2017?”

Police, some in riot gear, used tear gas and pepper spray late on Friday into early Saturday in an attempt disperse protesters.

The protest began after former officer Jason Stockley, now 36, was acquitted in the 2011 killing of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith, a convicted drug dealer who rammed the officers’ patrol car before leading them on a high-speed.

When cornered and called on to get out of the vehicle, Smith instead fumbled on the floor of the vehicle, leading Stockley to shoot him five times in the belief that he was reaching for a gun.

A masked protester rolls out the barrel of his anger as anarchy descends on St Louis.

A pistol was found in the vehicle, but protesters insist it was planted by police to justify the shooting.

Protesters say the verdict highlighted racial injustice and a failure of the St Louis justice system and called for boycotts of city businesses.

-AAP