Residents, customers say Central West End returning to 'normal' after protest

Almost a month later, some people feel it's finally starting to feel normal again.

It's been almost a month since a judge found former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley not guilty of murder in the killing of Anthony Lamar Smith. Protests have continued ever since. Most have been non-violent, but a few turned chaotic with mass arrests.

One of the most chaotic scenes was in the Central West End. It was the first neighborhood that had businesses damaged. On that day, dozens of protesters were arrested and several businesses had store front windows busted the night the ruling was released.

"Two to three weeks now since the first night, things have pretty much returned to normal," said David Harper, who lives in the Central West End.

But, days after the protest, Harper said that wasn't the case.

"The first few days I think people were kind of cautious, edgy, you can kind of feel it," he said.

Curtis Hill has been a frequent customer at the Golden Grocer for decades. It was one of many businesses that had its windows damaged.

"When I came through and saw it I said oh no not here," he said.

Since then, he said he feels the neighborhood is getting back to normal. But, he said it took some time.

"This is the hub of the city, this is the one place where people can connect, it was kind of scary for a few days," he said.

John Larico, owner of Golden Grocer, wasn't at his store the night of the protest. The day after, he showed up with people willing to help him rebuild. And his storefront windows that were once busted became a symbol of unity.

"We've taken a damaging situation and turned it into a positive situation," Larico said.

Harper said St. Louis is under a microscope. And with the spotlight, an opportunity to make things better.

“Whether we choose to do it or not is a whole other question,” he said. “We are not going to solve it in one day, one week or one year.”

It is unclear how much business was affected in the Central West End, after the protest weeks ago. But one business did tell 5 On Your Side, yesterday was the busiest night since the protest.

© 2017 KSDK-TV


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