Police officers in riot gear gathered alongside a St Louis boulevard late on Sunday night, chanting “whose street, our street”, a common refrain used by those protesting against the acquittal of a white former officer over the death of a black man, after successfully clearing the street of demonstrators and onlookers.

St Louis protests turn violent for third night over acquittal of white officer in police killing
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At a news conference early on Monday, interim police chief Lawrence O’Toole said police had seized at least five weapons and said he was “proud to tell you the city of St Louis is safe and the police owned tonight”.

“We’re in control,” he said. “This is our city and we’re going to protect it.”

The chant drew criticism, however, from protesters, activists and some police officers. In a statement, Sgt Heather King, president of the Ethical Order of Police, a group founded by African American officers, said: “That chant goes against the very code of ethics we swore to abide by.

“Whether we agree with demonstrations, protests or acts of violence, it is our job to do our job free of personal bias.”

On Twitter on Monday, the group said: “We are human and we will make mistakes. We are also people who have the last word, which can be – arrest, freedom, or death. No need 2 chant.”

Hundreds of officers had mobilized after another day of peaceful protests over the acquittal of Jason Stockley in connection with the death of Anthony Lamar Smith. The protest began at the police headquarters downtown. Hundreds of people marched through downtown streets, the posh Central West End and the trendy Delmar Loop area of nearby University City.

Protesters also marched through two shopping malls in a wealthy area of St Louis County. Following the pattern of the previous days, more than 1,000 people marched peacefully for several hours. By nightfall, most had gone home.