ST. LOUIS — Noisy demonstrators marched through an upscale shopping mall Saturday to protest the acquittal of a white former St. Louis police officer in the fatal shooting of a black man, after a night of mostly peaceful demonstrations that escalated into scattered acts of vandalism and violence.

A few hundred people walked through West County Center in Des Peres loudly chanting slogans such as “black lives matter” and “it is our duty to fight for our freedom” to decry the judge’s verdict Friday clearing ex-St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

Susanna Prins, 27, of University City, showed up at a meeting to plan the action carrying a sign saying “White silence is violence.”

“I feel helpless and I feel just rage,” Prins said. “Not saying or doing anything makes you complicit in the brutalization of our friends and neighbors.”

Smith’s death is just one of several high-profile U.S. cases in recent years in which a white officer killed a black suspect, including the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson that sparked months of angry and sometimes violent protests.

Republican Gov. Eric Greitens was highly critical during his 2016 campaign of how former Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon managed the Ferguson protests, suggesting that with the right presence and leadership there could have been peace by the second night.

In advance of the Stockley verdict, Greitens met with Smith’s fiancée, black state lawmakers, black St. Louis faith leaders and law enforcement in the hopes of projecting a shared message that peaceful protest would be tolerated but violence wouldn’t.

Before the verdict, Greitens put the National Guard on standby, and some troops were deployed Friday night to guard fire stations and other “critical infrastructure.”