A St. Louis Police Department spokesperson said Wednesday that 36 people arrested during violent protests over the death of George Floyd have been released from prison.
The charged individuals were arrested for alleged trespassing, burglary, property damage, stealing, and assault, the police spokesperson said. The suspects’ ages range from 17 years old to 36 years old.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) slammed the decision to release the protesters, writing on social media: “In a stunning development, our office has learned that every single one of the St. Louis looters and rioters arrested were released back onto the streets by local prosecutor Kim Gardner.”
In a stunning development, our office has learned that every single one of the St. Louis looters and rioters arrested were released back onto the streets by local prosecutor Kim Gardner. pic.twitter.com/tMZVAyHssw
— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) June 3, 2020
Authorities are pressing for charges from Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner in two cases, said Allison Hawk, a spokeswoman for Gardner.
During a Tuesday press conference, Gardner claimed that she would “use the full power of the law” to prosecute individuals who committed violence.
“What happened last night was not about nonviolent protests, what happened was a small group of individuals chose to benefit off of the pain and suffering of our community and use it as an excuse to engage in senseless violence,” the prosecutor said. “I will continue to uphold the rights to peacefully protest, but I want to be clear, I will use the full power of the law and my officer to prosecute and hold accountable anyone who murders police officers, shoots at police offices or harms anyone in my community.
“These people who commit these heinous acts are not interested in finding solutions to intractable racism at the heart of the protests, but they’re using this opportunity to cause chaos to everyone,” she added. “Understand that you will be held responsible for these senseless acts of violence.”
On early Tuesday morning, a retired St. Louis police captain was killed by looters after protests turned violent.
David Dorn, 77, was found dead on the sidewalk in front of Lee’s Pawn & Jewelry about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday. No arrests have been made.
The shooting and theft were apparently posted on Facebook Live, but the video has since been taken down. It came on a violent night in St. Louis, where four officers were shot, officers were pelted with rocks and fireworks, and 55 businesses were burglarized or damaged, including a convenience store that burned. Police also shot and gravely injured a burglary suspect who they say shot at officers.
Cities across the U.S. have seen protests and violence since George Floyd died May 25 after a white Minneapolis officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly ten minutes even after the handcuffed black man stopped moving and pleading for air.
Dorn, who was black, was a friend of the pawn shop’s owner and frequently checked on the business when alarms went off, his wife, St. Louis police Sgt. Ann Marie Dorn, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
David Dorn served 38 years on the St. Louis police force before retiring in October 2007. He then became chief of Moline Acres, a small town in St. Louis County.
The AP contributed to this report.