Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Billy Joel Takes the Stage at Busch as Protesters March in the Street

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Billy Joel Takes the Stage at Busch as Protesters March in the Street

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * Billy Joel managed to do on Thursday night what protests had prevented U2 and Ed Sheeran from doing earlier in the week: perform in concert in St. Louis.

Despite hundreds of demonstrators marching outside, the performer known as the Piano Man took to the stage at Busch Stadium as scheduled at 8 p.m. to deliver hit after hit in front of a sold-out crowd of 40,000.

"Good evening, St. Louie," Joel said early on. "Glad you made it. I know things have been a little tense around here."

His first song, "My Life," drowned out the protesters' chants. That prompted many of them to move away from the stadium back toward Kiener Plaza, where they had first grouped.

At different times, they blocked traffic on Broadway between the stadium and the plaza, but there were no reports of violence or vandalism.

The protest marked a seventh day of demonstrations and other events in response to a judge's decision finding former St. Louis police Officer Jason Stockley, who is white, not guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting of drug suspect Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, after a car chase in 2011. That decision was issued last Friday.

On Thursday night, among the chants of the group, which was overwhelmingly white, were: "White silence is violence" and "Out of the county and into the streets."

Alexandra Lane-Detwiler, of Chesterfield, was among the protesters. "I can't sit at home in my privilege and not come out," she said.

Danielle Williams, 19, joined the protest along with a friend. The St. Louis resident said she was happy to see that it had drawn a largely white crowd.

She said she has felt a lack of empathy for the concerns of black urban residents like herself from others who don't share her skin color and don't live in the city.

"They're not trying to understand," she said. "They don't get it because they don't live where we live."

Hours earlier, officials had taken precautions to prevent potential protests from disrupting the concert. Barricades were erected around the stadium. The marchers were kept outside those barriers.

Several people interviewed as they were leaving Joel's performance said they hadn't seen or heard the protesters outside. …

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