St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson publicly disapproved of the taunting chants of “Whose streets? Our streets!” that several police officers were caught shouting at protesters Sunday night.
During a press conference Tuesday, Krewson admitted, “I wish that wouldn’t have been said. That’s not appropriate for police officers to say.” She acknowledged that while the police force is under a lot of stress, “that’s not an excuse.”
The slogan was previously used by participants of a white supremacist march in Charlottesville last month.
Krewson also condemned interim police Chief Lawrence O’Toole for previously saying that “police owned tonight” in reaction to the violent tussle between police and protesters Sunday.
“I think that’s an inflammatory comment,” Krewson said. “The police department is charged with protecting.”
On Sunday, what began as a peaceful protest turned violent after nightfall, with police arresting more than 120 people and using pepper spray on the crowds. (Demonstrators have also accused police of using excessive force and a tactic known as “kettling” to make mass arrests, according to CNN).
Post-Dispatch reporter Mike Faulk was among those arrested, and he tweeted about being assaulted by police officers while reporting on the protests.
“I was acting lawfully, doing my job, when St. Louis police officers assaulted me,” he wrote Tuesday. “I am not guilty of anything. My boss & attorneys will tell you the same thing.”
Sunday night marked the third day of protests after Friday’s acquittal of Jason Stockley, a white former police officer who shot and killed a 24-year-old black drug suspect, Anthony Lamar Smith, in 2011. Safety concerns related to the protests moved both U2 and Ed Sheeran to cancel scheduled concerts in the city.
On Monday, protesters gathered outside the jail in downtown St. Louis to show solidarity for those arrested over the weekend, chanting, “Free our people.”