Police Officers Swarm Restaurant After Owner Claims They Threw Tear Gas Canister At Customers

Nearly one-half of one whole dozen pro-police protesters swarmed Pi Pizzeria’s Kirkwood location Friday night in a show of force against owner Chris Sommers’ recent criticism of St. Louis police tactics.

The action was planned by a Facebook group called Boycott Pi Pizza St Louis, which blasted Sommers for his criticism of police aggression in response to protests following the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley. Sommers claims police officers threw a tear gas canister at him and his customers at the restaurant’s Central West End location on Friday night after clearing the streets of protesters.

The pro-police group Blue Lives Matter published a blog post about Sommers after he tweeted that the police officers who were chanting “Whose streets? Our streets” were “dimwits.”

“Let’s get the word out that if you bash the police, you won’t be getting our business,” the article read.

That post, which has been shared on Facebook more than 2,000 times since the time of this writing — including by the union representing St. Louis County police officers — led to all four Pi Pizzeria locations being inundated with nasty phone calls and phony one-star reviews, Sommers says. Online commenters and pro-police activists called for a boycott, and planned a protest at the only Pi restaurant not actually located within St. Louis city limits.

“Please let Chris Sommers, the very arrogant owner of Pi Squared Restaurant, know that you SUPPORT our law enforcment by going to his restaurant Friday night with PRO Police signs and let his customers know where he stands on law enforcement,” the event’s description reads. Pro-police protesters were urged to dress in blue clothing.

But for all the excitement online, in real life, the protest fizzled.

Things kicked off at 6 p.m. on Friday with two men and and one woman standing on the edge of the parking lot near a chair with a blue balloon tied to it. At its height, the crowd swelled to four people, ranging in age from 45 or so to approximately 60, and one dog. None of them wanted to share their full names.

John came here out of curiosity, he says. He lives about a block away and says he’s had previous “uncomfortable” interactions with Sommers over a neighborhood zoning issue involving a proposed parking lot.

“I’m also supporting the boycott because of what he had to say the other night on camera,” John says, referring to Sommers criticizing the police. Asked how he felt about the outcome of the Stockley trial, he says, “The whole matter is tragic,” but makes clear he is pro-police.

For the full story visit: https://www.riverfronttimes.com/newsblog/2017/09/23/pro-police-protest-of-kirkwood-pi-pizzeria-is-a-bust