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Krewson Imposes Curfew In St. Louis To End Violence After Protests

Protestors gathered Monday, June 1, at the St. Louis Justic Center for a protest for social justice, ignited by the recent killing of George Floyd.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio
The violence and property damage in downtown St. Louis followed a day of peaceful protests, like this one at the St. Louis Justice Center.

St. Louis will impose a curfew at 9 p.m. to clear city streets and defuse the violence that has followed protests in recent days, Mayor Lyda Krewson announced Tuesday.

Krewson said the curfew will be in effect until 6 a.m. Wednesday to help authorities restore order. It will resume each evening “until further notice,” according to Krewson’s executive order authorizing the curfew. People who violate it will be subject to arrest and prosecution.

The mayor enacted the curfew to preempt the chaos that occurred late Monday and into the morning, when some people damaged 55 buildings in downtown St. Louis following a day of peaceful protests.

Protesters took to the St. Louis streets to join the nationwide expressions of outrage about the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the long history of police violence against African Americans.

“What started as a very nonviolent and peaceful demonstration and protest ended in looting, shooting, burning and attacks on law enforcement,” Krewson said.

City officials said 25 arrests were made overnight.

Police Chief John Hayden said the order will allow police to more vigorously enforce order.

“Learning from the protests that we’ve had in the past, I think we’ve implemented the best plan that we can, and of course the mayor's curfew that she’s instituted will help us to be more on the offensive as opposed to just defending things,” he said.

The curfew exempts people who are traveling to and from work or to their homes lawfully; city, state and federal employees on the job; news media with credentials; people who are traveling for medical treatment or assisting others who are; and homeless people.

Hayden said more than 200 people appeared to head to various locations to damage property. He said the violence that occurred Monday differs from the “passive resistance” of protesters who took to the streets in 2017 following a court’s decision to acquit former police officer Jason Stockley of murder charges in his fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith.

“Last night everybody in this group was very actively, in coordination, coming down there to steal and to pillage,” Hayden said. “And so I think they're easily distinguishable. They are not peaceful protesters. They didn’t come down there to be peaceful.”

Earlier Monday, protesters peacefully marched down Market Street to the Gateway Arch, and then temporarily blocked traffic on Interstate 64 heading west. Protesters also gathered in front of the City Justice Center downtown. 

None of the Tuesday night arrests were related to the shooting of four on-duty St. Louis police officers, Hayden said. The officers were standing near a police line when they were hit by gunfire — two in a leg, one in an arm and another in a foot. 

Retired police captain David Dorn, 77, was shot and killed while responding to a burglary alarm at a friend’s business.

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Jeremy is the arts & culture reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.