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Protests against police brutality, jail conditions dot St. Louis region

Protests against police brutality, jail conditions dot St. Louis region

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Updated at 8:50 p.m. Tuesday with information from St. Charles County rally.

A handful of protesters lined the sidewalk of the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis on Tuesday, facing the Arch and waving signs at honking cars. The event was one of several demonstrations scheduled for the St. Louis region Tuesday.

Downtown protesters’ aim was to raise awareness about modern police brutality and the 1944 death of George Stinney Jr., said the event’s organizer Torinae Williams, 31, of St. Louis. Stinney, a black teen from South Carolina, was just 14 when he was sentenced to death in June 1944.

“It was significant for me to be out here on this day,” Williams said. “My son is 13.”

Williams said she didn’t expect a large turnout on a Tuesday, but she made it a point to protest on the anniversary of Stinney’s death.

“I knew it would turn out like that, and I said, ‘Even if I have to stand out here by myself, that is what I will do,’” Williams said.

Williams works at a local homeless shelter and encouraged her co-workers to protest with her.

“I know we’ve talked a lot about the way (Torinae) feels about her son and the way she feels about her community,” said May McConnell, 22, of St. Louis. “And it’s always a community that I want to show up and support so that is why we are here with her today.”

Gabrielle Hobson, 19, of St. Louis, said she was at the protest to stand up for young black men, including those who have been killed.

“We just have to stand up for them, stand behind them, let them know somebody loves and cares for them,” Hobson said.

Other Tuesday protestsA group of about 1,000 marched more than a mile Tuesday evening on Mid Rivers Mall Drive in St. Charles County to a rally organized by Francis Howell School District teachers and administrators. The rally, which was not sponsored by the district, attracted a mostly white crowd.

St. Charles County “has been so white,” said Bill Hogan, 65, who came out from his apartment along the route and raised a fist in support of the marchers. “This is good.”

Hogan, who has lived in the county for 20 years, said he was encouraged to hear chants of “Black Lives Matter” in the community.

“It makes my heart glad,” he said. “People have been oppressed for so long.”

Speakers at the rally in the Calvary Church parking lot said they want to see more teachers of color in the district, a more comprehensive black history curriculum and an end to discriminatory discipline, among other changes.

Beth and Jeff Cox of Weldon Spring, who are white, brought their 6-year-old son, Rigby, who is black, to the rally.

“I hope it’s a sign of change that this community will be better,” said Jeff Cox.

Elsewhere Tuesday, protesters gathered and blocked off the street in front of the St. Charles County Courts Administration Building — the second day of protests outside the building.

Protesters demanded County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar file charges against the former Florissant police detective accused of hitting a suspect with a police SUV two weeks ago.

They were met with a milder police presence than Monday, as no helicopters circled above, and fewer officers were on scene.

Another protest was set for Tuesday evening in Cottleville. According to the Facebook event page, organizers called for St. Louis to close the city’s Medium Security Institution, also known as the workhouse.

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