St. Louis County, Mo., police are still looking to arrest looters who took to the streets in November after a grand jury failed to indict a White officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown, who was Black and unarmed, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Since the department began releasing surveillance photos last week from protests that swept through Ferguson, Mo. on Nov. 24, police have developed over a dozen leads and identified at least five suspects, the report says. Officials plan to release more images on successive Tuesdays from other protest-related crimes on various dates in an effort to track down and arrest looters. The report says:
Last week’s pictures revealed faces of 28 people burglarizing the Phillips 66 gas station at 1955 Chambers Road, near Dellwood, said Officer Shawn McGuire. Those identified from public tips have not yet been charged.
This week’s images show seven people recorded while looting the Crazy Deals Liquor Store at 11066 New Halls Ferry Road, as well as the faces of about 12 people who broke into the Rehoboth Pharmacy at 9944 West Florissant Avenue on Nov. 24.
McGuire said the department is stretching out the release of photos from dozens of businesses because their number is “overwhelming.”
McGuire said upcoming images could include protests from Aug. 10, the day after Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Brown, after a brief confrontation. The shooting ignited ongoing protests across the nation against police violence in Black communities, the newspaper notes:
“When you see these crimes occur, I think it upsets protesters and citizens because it goes against everything they want, which is positive change,” he suggested. “But it’s part of the Ferguson story. Those crimes did occur and still need to be solved. These people took advantage of a situation where the amount of people and crimes that occurred in a small amount of time left us unable to react accordingly to take care of them.”
McGuire is right. The looting was upsetting to watch and was a disservice to the protest movement. But focusing solely on arresting looters threatens to widen the divide between police and the community. We hope police are also working to strengthen ties in the community, which could help ward off problems in the first place.