ST. LOUIS • A group of protesters blocked traffic at Hampton Avenue and Chippewa Street on Thursday evening before marching to the nearby St. Louis Police Officers Association and calling for its controversial spokesman to be fired.
The protest was part of an ongoing series related to the acquittal last month in the murder case of a former city police officer.
The group first formed a line in the street shortly before 6 p.m. Police were monitoring the protest and warned of traffic delays.
The intersection is a busy one in south St. Louis. A Target store is in one corner, and a Schnucks grocery and JC Penney’s store are in a shopping center across the street.
About a dozen counterprotesters gathered in the Target parking lot, some of them holding "Thin Blue Line" flags to signify their support of police.
While there, a few people from both protest groups talked to each other about their reasons for protesting.
Marcellus Buckley, who was protesting against the not-guilty verdict, said he talked to the opposing group to give them "a better understanding of the reasons we're out here."
“We all have different views but we have to look at the same picture together," he said. "We can't be divided."
"We had some guys that are like 'don't talk to them' but that's only because they're afraid of us getting to love each other and grow with each other and change the status quo.”
Buckley said he was out protesting against "police brutality."
"It's simple, when we don't get justice, expect us," he said.
After briefly blocking the intersection, the protesters marched north on Hampton to the St. Louis Police Officers Association building between Tholozan and Mardel avenues, where they called for the association to fire police union business manager Jeff Roorda.
Speaking to the group on a megaphone, protest organizer Cori Bush called the "St. Louis' Finest" tagline on the police association building's sign "a lie."
“Now, they can be St. Louis finest," Bush said. "They can be. They have to want to be. But Jeff Roorda cares not. He does not care.”
Roorda recently announced his candidacy for Jefferson County executive and said he would step down from his role with the association if he wins. Earlier this year, he called mayoral candidate Tishaura Jones a "race baiter" and "cop hater," after which her opponent at the time, Lyda Krewson, called on the association to fire him.
Several other protesters spoke in front of the building before the group marched back to Hampton and Chippewa.
As police began to redirect traffic around demonstrators, a vehicle westbound on Chippewa Street approached the protesters and turned right onto Hampton Avenue.
Police pulled over the vehicle. The driver was not given a citation, police at the scene said.
There were no reported injuries or arrests amid the protests. All lanes at Hampton were reopened by around 7:15 p.m., police said.
On Tuesday night, 143 people were arrested after protesters briefly blocked traffic on Highway 40 (Interstate 64) in the city. They were later charged with trespassing.