Since the death of Michael Brown, members of One Struggle KC have been involved in the fight against police brutality and state violence perpetrated upon oppressed communities. In that time, we have witnessed lip service from the Kansas City Police Department supporting the right to protest and criticize state action, as well as a vigorous PR campaign to paint the KCPD as the model police department. However, in practice, what we have seen is physical and verbal abuse at the hands of KCPD, as well as misrepresentation and demonization by their mouthpiece, local mainstream media. All of this amounts to a blatant effort to quell the concerns of communities of color and quash the voices of those who would seek to pull back the veil on state violence and abuses of power.
On Tuesday, November 25, 2014, the day after the grand jury announcement in Ferguson, Missouri, One Struggle KC held space with purpose of allowing the community to dialogue and strategize on ways to build solidarity, address the over-policing of our communities, and empower those in attendance to begin creating substantive change to ensure that each member of our community is able to live with dignity and without fear. Immediately following, many attendees joined the call from the Ida B. Wells Coalition Against Racism and Police Brutality in a protest at Emmanuel Cleaver Boulevard and Prospect Avenue. Those gathered then took to the streets in a march toward the Plaza and Westport areas in a physical display of their pain, agony, and outrage over yet another failure of a system which holds itself out as a purveyor of justice, but which continues in its role as a purveyor of violence against oppressed communities, particularly, communities of color, and Black lives. During this march, KCPD used their horses to assault demonstrators, resulting in a bloodied and broken toe of one individual. There were instances of KCPD officers making obscene gestures toward demonstrators and throwing water bottles at the group as they attempted to exercise their First Amendment right to free speech.
That night, there were four arrests. One woman, a U.S. Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, was arrested and physically abused by KCPD officers while attempting to use a crosswalk to cross at the intersection of Broadway Boulevard and Westport Road. The abuse resulted in soreness, stiffness, and bruises that lasted for days after the arrest. Despite the fact that a Kansas City Star photographer was among those arrested that night, local media reported that the demonstration was “mostly peaceful,” besides the people who were arrested. It must be made clear that every single person arrested that night was demonstrating peacefully, that two were veterans, and that one was a member of the press.
On December 20, 2014, One Struggle KC held a demonstration against police brutality in solidarity with such demonstrations around the country and with the #BlackLivesMatter movement stemming from the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. At approximately 3:30 pm, members of the community met at the intersection of Truman Road and Paseo Boulevard, where a rally was held, organized by One Struggle KC. Following the rally, activists engaged in a direct action on Interstate 70, effectively shutting down a portion of the highway for approximately 30 minutes. Seven people were arrested during the action and charged with either “failure to use a sidewalk/obey a lawful order” or “hindering, resisting, and fleeing.” Chief Darryl Forte was present at the scene. No official warning to disperse was ever given to the crowd of protesters. Chief Forte told a few persons in the crowd that they had two minutes to disperse before his officers would begin arresting people. Again, this information was not relayed to the larger crowd, and officers began arresting individuals indiscriminately. One officer pulled a protester from the crowd as the protester was attempting to leave, in compliance with police orders. The compilation video below confirms this. There were several legal observers on hand recording information as well.
In addition, none of the persons arrested were read their Miranda rights, although they were questioned by officers regarding their role in the direct action and details of the direct action and possible future actions. One protester who is transgender, was rammed with a police SUV, and later threatened with rape by a KCPD officer during their arrest on December 20th. One of the veterans arrested just one month before was arrested again while complying with police orders to head to the bottom of the ramp. Another particularly bizarre arrest occurred after protesters exited the highway ramp. A young man was arrested and charged with not exiting the highway, but as the video proves, he was behind a fence watching the entire time.
Sadly, KCPD is being praised for their handling of Kansas City demonstrations related to Ferguson. The video ends with Chief Forte falsely claiming that everyone who was arrested said that they wanted to get arrested, besides two people who were clinging to protesters as cops attacked them. Chief Darryl Forte was just named as a “Newsmaker of the Year” by the Kansas City Star. Forte also received the “Peace Award” at the 29th Annual World Peace Meditation held at the Rime Buddhist Center. The level of disconnect that this represents is disheartening. On one hand, Darryl Forte publicly voices support of demonstrators and uses them as leverage for positive media coverage, while on the other hand dehumanizing, degrading, and abusing them behind closed doors. This behavior continues to foster the distrust between KCPD and the Kansas City community. The hypocrisy is disgusting, unethical, and inhumane, and will be exposed as long as it continues to happen. We will not be silent or silenced.
Please join us in letting people know that #BlueLiesMatter