FLORISSANT, Mo. (AP) — Two women are facing charges after protesters began to paint “Black Lives Matter” in the street near a suburban St. Louis police department that has has been the site of protests since a white detective’s SUV struck a Black suspect earlier this month.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the arrests came Sunday night after multiple warnings during a protest in Florissant, Missouri.
The department in the north St. Louis County town has been the site of several protests since the Black suspect was injured June 2. The detective, Joshua Smith, was fired and was charged last week with assault and armed criminal action.
Smith’s attorney said the man was struck accidentally. Video was captured from two home security systems.
On Sunday, 50 to 70 protesters gathered outside police headquarters and some sought to paint “Black Lives Matter” similar to what was painted near the White House in Washington.
The slogan was first painted on Friday, but it was painted over the next day at the direction of the city’s street department, police spokesman Steve Michael said, Protesters repainted “Black Lives Matter” in 12-foot-high(3.7-meter-high) letters on Saturday, but it was again painted over.
Protesters who gathered Sunday night were warned that anyone painting in the street would risk getting pepper sprayed or arrested. Police moved in when the painting started.
Michael said the words were were causing confusion for drivers and attracting onlookers to the busy stretch of road.
“It’s not the message we are painting over, it’s the fact they are painting over the highway,” he said.
Protesters and police had a brief but violent encounter late Friday and early Saturday. Police used pepper spray to disperse a crowd after demonstrators threw objects that damaged the police building. Michael said up to four officers were struck by thrown objects.
Three people were arrested Friday, one each for assault, property damage and peace disturbance.