Leaders at the state and local levels called for peace this week ahead of a ruling in the Jason Stockley trial.
On Friday, Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson found Stockley, a former St. Louis Metropolitan Police officer, not guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action for shooting and killing Anthony Lamar Smith Dec. 11, 2011. He spent more than five weeks deliberating Stockley’s fate.
On Thursday evening, Gov. Eric Greitens was joined by Christina Wilson, the fiancée of Smith, to call for calm after the decision. Greitens said compassion, love, peace, and understanding need to prevail over violence.
"Whatever the verdict is, we will protect every single person's right to peacefully protest. And whatever the verdict is, we will also protect people's lives, their homes and our communities," he said.
Christina Wilson also called for peace.
"If you feel like you want to speak out, speak to whatever comes to you, just do it in a peaceful way," she said.
Greitens also put the Missouri National Guard on standby in anticipation of any protests. Clergy members and activists promised demonstrations if Stockley was acquitted.
In a video released Thursday, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said the city would protect people's right to assemble and protest, but that violence and destruction of property would not be tolerated.
"It should not be difficult to both understand and support the right to free speech, and be clear that those who commit violence or destructive acts will face consequences," she said.
The city has established a free public protest zone at the park at the corner of Market Street and Tucker Boulevard.