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Minnesota activists rally in solidarity with St. Louis

Tensions are high in St. Louis after a former police officer was acquitted on murder charges.
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Minnesota activist groups held an "emergency rally" in Minneapolis on Sunday, in response to protests happening in Missouri.

The rally was a sign of solidarity with St. Louis, where people have been protesting for three straight days after the acquittal of Jason Stockley. He's a former police officer who shot and killed 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011, during a car chase over a suspected drug deal. 

The trial made national headlines not only because of its racial ties (Stockley is white, Smith was black), but also because prosecutors alleged that Stockley intentionally killed Smith. Court documents say a recording device captured the officer telling his partner he was "going to kill this motherf—er, don't you know it." 

Stockley was also accused of planting a gun in Smith's car to make the shooting look like self defense.

After the not-guilty verdict came down on Friday, CNN says protesters in St. Louis blocked highways and threw rocks at the mayor's house. At least 33 people were arrested the first day, USA Today says, and nine more people were arrested by early Sunday morning.

On Sunday afternoon, Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar Clark announced that several local activist groups would rally in uptown Minneapolis in solidarity with St. Louis.

"Despite clear evidence of murder, a judge acquitted Stockley on Friday," the coalition said in a news release. "In response, thousands have taken to the streets of St. Louis in protest of another police killing of a Black person goes unpunished. St. Louis police have responded with more violence against protesters, attacking them with pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets and riot batons. They are also facing indiscriminate arrests and inflated criminal charges."

The coalition says it stands with protesters in St. Louis "one hundred percent," and rejects "bogus" claims that protests are violent.

"It’s foolish to cry about a few broken windows, when our communities are speaking out against the economic, political and police violence that has besieged us for generations. It is the police, who come outfitted with military armor and weaponry, who answer our demonstrations with violence," the release says. 

Demonstrators gathered outside the Walker Library on Hennepin Avenue beginning at 3 p.m. 

Video footage posted on the Facebook event page shows people holding signs and chanting "No justice, no peace. No racist police." 

Co-hosts of the rally included Blue LIES Matter, The New North, Black Lives Matter Minnesota, Justice4MarcusGolden, and Communities United Against Police Brutality.

It's the second demonstration in the Twin Cities this weekend. On Friday, the Pioneer Press says about 300 people participated in an anti-racism protest during rush hour in downtown Minneapolis. 

Minneapolis Police said that protest was not related to the St. Louis verdict – it was planned weeks ago. It caused some traffic delays, but no one was arrested.

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