Agreement would limit St. Louis police actions in protests

July 29, 2021 GMT

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A settlement has been reached to end a lawsuit brought by a civil liberties group over St. Louis police actions taken during downtown protests in 2017.

A consent judgment announced Wednesday would end the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of protesters against the city, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The lawsuit cited police use of tear gas, mace and pepper balls shot from a gun and a “kettling” technique to round up protesters.

The protests followed the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley in the death of a Black man, Anthony Lamar Smith, after a police chase in 2011.

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The agreement limits police use of chemical agents against protesters and requires police to give clear warnings and sufficient time to protesters to disperse. Police training on the limits and First Amendment rights would also be required.

The settlement stipulations mostly follow a 2017 injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry that restricted police interference when people are using their constitutional rights of free speech and assembly.

Earlier this year, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling saying the injunction was meant to be a temporary order and must end unless taken up by a trial court this year.

As part of the settlement, the city does not admit to any fault or wrongdoing to the claims filed in the lawsuit.