In interviews with the Guardian, veterans of the protests following the shooting of Michael Brown say that street confrontations with the police have worsened in the past three years.
Last weekend protesters turned out in force after white ex-cop Jason Stockley was acquitted of first-degree murder for killing Anthony Lamar Smith, 24.
Following the protests in 2014, after Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, the federal government intervened with the Department of Justice issuing a scathing report calling for reforms.
The Guardian goes on to note that “there is evidence that in Ferguson, the consent decree – essentially a court order for the department to make certain reforms and adjustments – is working,” but adds that other agencies have not and, instead, have refined their techniques and clamped down harder on protesters.
According to Christy Lopez a Georgetown law professor who worked on the DoJ report, “That’s one jurisdiction and it has no impact on what’s happening to the St Louis police.”
Pointing out that she witnessed St. Louis cops chanting, “whose streets, our streets” last weekend as police conducted mass arrests of protesters, Lopez stated, “You can’t legislate goodwill.”
“It is worse than if they hadn’t learned anything. It’s more as if they’ve learned all the wrong lessons and drawn all the wrong conclusions,” she explained, noting the police clamped down faster, used new street techniques to bottle up protesters and then tear-gassed participants before arresting them.
Equally dismaying were comments made by interim police chief, Lawrence O’Toole, who announced, “The police owned tonight … We’re in control.”
According Gina Torres, the mother of Isaiah Hammett,22, who was killed by police in June — nothing has changed and her push for independent investigations of the shootings have fallen on deaf ears.
“How can you have an investigation by the same police that murdered your kid? We need other people for investigations, because they’re going to write what they want. They’re going to sit there and say that they were innocent,” she explained.”We need people to investigate these killings who are not police officers.”
You can read the whole report here.