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St. Louis unrest over police shooting leads to eight arrests

St. Louis unrest over police shooting leads to eight arrests
A demonstrator confronts police wearing riot gear during an Oct. 9 protest in the shooting death of Vonderrit D. Myers Jr. by a police officer in St. Louis. (Jeff Roberson / Associated Press)

What started as a peaceful but boisterous march protesting a young black man's shooting death by a white police officer turned into a standoff with riot police that ended late Thursday night with eight arrests.

St. Louis police officials said an officer was hit in the arm with a brick and that someone threw a knife with brass knuckles at police.

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FOR THE RECORD

9:52 a.m.: An earlier version of this post mistakenly referred to St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch's last name as Clayton.

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In a likely preview of protests planned this weekend in nearby Ferguson, where another young black man was shot and killed by a police officer two months ago, scores of demonstrators gathered in the racially diverse neighborhood of Shaw earlier in the evening to protest Wednesday's shooting death of 18-year-old Vonderrit D. Myers Jr. by an off-duty St. Louis police officer.

Myers' family had asked that demonstrators not be violent or destroy property.

But there were reports Thursday of at least two broken windows along the marchers' route.

Marching up Shaw Boulevard after a vigil at the site of Myers' shooting, the demonstrators blocked an intersection and refused to allow cars to pass.

"You can't get through!" a young woman wagged her finger at a driver who tried to pull through the crowd. "You're going to have to get out."

A few drivers honked in support as demonstrators chanted "Shut it down!" and moved to occupy another intersection half a mile from two hospitals, the St. Louis University Hospital and a children's hospital.

A few drivers told demonstrators they were carrying sick passengers, including children. The demonstrators let them through; the rest were turned away.

An ambulance with flashing lights was slowed as it tried to pass through the intersection, waiting as demonstrators moved an SUV that was parked in the road to block traffic.

The blockade lasted about half an hour.

The demonstrators then left the intersection, and police swarmed them after they arrived along a stretch of businesses in the Tower Grove neighborhood, almost two miles from where Myers was shot.

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Demonstrators reporting being pepper-sprayed, and authorities said demonstrators damaged two police vehicles and smashed a window of a drug store.

According to St. Louis Metropolitan Police spokesperson Schron Y. Jackson, eight arrests were made on charges including unlawful assembly, property damage and marijuana possession.

Further demonstrations were expected in St. Louis County on Friday afternoon with demonstrators planning to march on St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch's office in Clayton.

The demonstrators are demanding that McCulloch step aside in handling the grand jury proceedings for the Aug. 9 police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson.

The grand jury is expected to make a decision on whether to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in November.

This weekend, demonstrators are planning a "Weekend of Resistance." The event is to include talks and workshops in addition to a concert on Sunday featuring rapper Talib Kweli and an address by author and activist Cornel West.

Follow Matt Pearce on Twitter for more news from St. Louis: @mattpearce

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