However, the meeting was quickly postponed due to Police Chief Darryl Forte’s absence. He stated that he, “wanted to be present for any council discussion about the police handling of the crowd situation.” Forte repeatedly tried to justify the actions of the police via twitter and his blog. He praised his officers and called the use of pepper spray, “an excellent preventative measure.” He also falsely claimed that the crowd was throwing objects at the police, that people wore gas-masks, and that protestors invited arrest. He even went so far as to claim that police were responding to a “bomb threat,” even though not a single person was evacuated from the Midland and he provided literally no evidence to support his ludicrous claim. All of these are blatant lies and fabrications meant to divert attention away from the egregious actions of KCPD and placate those of us who see the police for what they are: Oppressors of the people and guardians of the status-quo and demagogues like Donald Trump.
Last Saturday presidential candidate Donald Trump held a rally at the Midland Theater here in Kansas City. Hundreds of protestors, led by our comrades at Progressive Youth Organization, lined the streets outside the venue to demonstrate against the racism, xenophobia, and bigotry of Trump and his supporters. KCPD used their usual scare-tactics of mounted police and heavy tactical gear. And, at the height of the tension, despite no audible dispersal order being issued, several police officers aggressively pepper sprayed the crowd, which included journalists, the elderly, young children and people in wheelchairs. Thanks to the quick thinking of a few protestors, milk and water was distributed to alleviate the searing pain of the pepper spray. All this occurred while the police ignored the hate-speech and violence of Trump supporters. The brutal actions of KCPD garnered national attention, and the public outrage regarding the police response to protestors was originally meant to be addressed at the Kansas City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Wednesday, March 16th.
Then, even more outrageously, The Kansas City Star had the audacity to write an article claiming that protestors were “a no-show” at the public safety committee, AFTER they publicly announced hours earlier that any substantive conversation regarding the Trump rally would be postponed until a later date when Chief Forte could be present. These feeble attempts by the police and media to downplay and discredit the bravery and resolve of the protestors are only a testament to the power of the people and the efficacy of our movement. They must have forgotten that One Struggle KC and our comrades have been consistently organized for over a year, demonstrating against police brutality. They must have forgotten that we have been shutting down highways and intersections all over this city in honor of Ryan Stokes and Javon Hawkins who died at the hands of KCPD. They must have forgotten how many times we took to the streets, how many times we marched right outside city hall and the police department in defiance of the police and in defense of Black and Brown lives. Chief Forte and his regime continue to pretend that the emerging grass-roots social movements in Kansas City are only a flash-in-the-pan phenomenon, hence the nervous, thinly-veiled lies. But our struggle is far from over. We are here to stay.
As long as we live in a world where Black and Brown lives are not valued and Muslims and immigrants are scapegoated to appease white fragility, we will not stop organizing. As long as white supremacists and proto-fascists like Donald Trump exist, we will not stop fighting for justice. Thank you to Progressive Youth Organization, and all of you who stood up to Trump this weekend. We hope you will continue to stand with us in the struggle.
-One Struggle KC-