A mall in St. Louis, Missouri, was temporarily closed after seven people were violently arrested during a Black Friday protest.
Among those arrested was Missouri State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr., who earlier that day had tweeted about shopping at the mall.
What a beautiful day to go shopping! Together pic.twitter.com/JUCEZEiFXP— Bruce Franks Jr (@brucefranksjr) November 24, 2017
The arrests took place shortly after several protesters arrived at the St. Louis Galleria at 2:00 p.m. The demonstrators walked outside shops, chanting “Shut it down.” Some stores closed their gates and pulled down their security shutters, trapping some customers inside.
The demonstration was part of an economic boycott announced by African-American activists to bring attention to the issues of police brutality against the black community, unethical bank loan practices and infrastructure neglect in some part of St. Louis, according to the St. Louis Today.
Organizers targeted a few specific retailers around the country, which are listed in their NoJusticeNoProfit.us website. Besides the St. Louis Galleria, the list includes Schnucks, a Phillips 66 gas station , Target and the Delmar Loop, which is under focus for using minority contracting in building the new Loop Trolley there.
“We pay taxes. … We spend our dollars in other communities, other venues, and we have not received an equitable return for those monies that we have invested,” said Rev. Dinah Tatman, one of the organizers. “We’re now taking our money and investing in ourselves.”
The St. Louis Galleria also became the site for a protest in September, which resulted in more than 20 arrests.
This time around, the mall was already surrounded by a large number of police officers. The Richmond Heights police announced the protesters will have to go home by 2:25 p.m. or they would start arresting them.
When some of the officers moved to arrest a person, Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. moved to questioned them. In response, he was violently thrown to the floor and pinned by the officers. The video showed a cop cruelly wrenching his arms back to handcuff him as he cried out in pain.
Several other protesters faced the same treatment and had to endure the hurt as the officers used needless excessive force.
One woman and six men were arrested and the mall was closed at about 2:40 p.m. It reopened at 3:20 p.m. after most of the demonstrators had dispersed.
The arrested protesters were taken to the St. Louis County Jail in Clayton. Soon after, about 50 people, including supporters and the press, gathered outside the place, some of them promising not to leave until the protesters were released.
“When they come out the door, we want them to know we’re here for them,” said Rev. Darryl Gray, one of the organizers.
Four of the people, including Franks, were reportedly released the very same night.
The St. Louis Police Department is already facing federal investigation for its handling of protests and suspects, after Jason Stockley, the cop who shot Anthony Lamar Smith, was acquitted in September. A federal court has also ordered the department’s officers to stop making protesters without reason, among other things.
Banner / Thumbnail : REUTERS, Adrees Latif