PHOTO BY DANNY WICENTOWSKI
Annie Smith, in purple, was front and center at a protest on September 25.
The St. Louis woman whose son's death has been at the center of demonstrations in the region said yesterday that she was angry at some of her fellow protesters for using his name to raise money.
Annie Smith, whose son Anthony Lamar Smith was killed by then-St. Louis officer Jason Stockley in 2011, told KTVI (Fox-2)
that some activists were raising money without her knowledge, and she would like them to stop.
"I'm not talking about all of them," she noted.
Her husband then broke in. "But the one's that collecting money for jail support, they need to cease and desist," said Darvell Smith, who was Anthony Lamar Smith's stepfather. "Millions of dollars have been collected profiting from our son's death."
But in a press statement this morning, organizers pushed back.
"We are shocked, saddened, angry and disappointed at the totally false allegations and blatant untruths made by the mother and stepfather of the late Anthony Lamar Smith," the statement said, noting that organizers have worked closely with the family.
Indeed, the Smiths have been front and center at protests, which are now in their sixth week. Annie Smith has frequently taken a place of honor at the front of the line.
Organizers are pushing back on the claim that they might be profiting from their work. "Frontline organizers, without any legal obligation, generously and unsolicited, assisted in raising thousands of dollars to support the Smith family for daily living expenses, because of their assertion that those who had initial agreed to help them 'had done absolutely nothing,'" their statement notes. "Frontline organizers adamantly reject any claim of mis-use of any public or private donations made to assist in jail support.
A fund was set up four weeks ago by those sympathetic to the cause to help protesters who had been arrested raise money for bail and legal fees — with some of them facing serious charges in St. Louis County
, not just citations. While that fund was clearly established with the aim of helping those facing charges, not family members, it appears to be the source of the family's complaints.
Organizers say they were not in charge in the fund and have not been the ones distributing it.
"Frontline organizers have absolutely no direct contact with soliciting, managing, or distributing donations raised for jail support," their statement says. "There are absolutely no Frontline organizers who receive any compensation for our involvement in this, or any other protest activities."
In the Fox-2 interview, a friend of the Smiths' identified as Anthony Cage Brisby suggested that Annie Smith's complaint is that she has not been receiving those funds. "Money has been collected on her son's name, and she hasn't received anything on it," he said.
Still, he told the station, "We are totally united, we're not divided."
A protest had been planned tonight for the Central West End. It's not clear whether the Smiths will be present.
In their statement, the organizers made it clear they would not be backing down.
The Frontline organizers continue to be committed to address, challenge, and eradicate the racism and bigotry that is the culture of the St. Louis Police Department, a culture that has provided cover for the shooting and killing of Blacks at the hands of St. Louis police.
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Finally, Frontline organizers continues to be committed to working with individual victims and families of police shootings.