After police end presence at Plaza, protesters march through open streets, sit in traffic

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City protesters were given a lot more leeway Thursday night.

It was the first time since protests started last Friday that there wasn’t a heavy police presence at the Country Club Plaza.

There were no police lines and no arrests by police in riot gear as protesters entered city streets that had been closed off in past nights. Instead, on Thursday, streets throughout the Plaza were open to traffic.

But beginning at 7 p.m. protesters began to march down them, arm in arm, blocking busy streets as unsuspecting cars came their way.

“Whose streets?” they chanted. “Our streets.”

At one point they sat in the middle of the intersection next to the JC Nichols Fountain at Cleaver II Boulevard for several minutes, chanting that they wouldn’t move. They blocked all four sides of the intersection several times.

At nightfall, police tried to help block the intersection with their squad cars to try to protect protesters from oncoming traffic. 

It was the seventh night of protesting in Kansas City, the past two of which have been largely peaceful. Police have drastically changed their approach to the protests, giving protesters more space and not using tear gas. 

Before that, for four nights in a row, police eventually declared the protests as unlawful assemblies. Overall, nearly 200 people have been arrested for protest-related charges. 

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