KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hundreds of protesters have gathered at the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, angry over the death of George Floyd.
The handcuffed black man died while in Minneapolis police custody, and on Friday, former Officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on his neck as Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe, was charged in his murder.
Protests initially broke out in Minneapolis after Floyd’s death but have since spread across the nation in the days since.
On Friday, a peaceful group first gathered around 3 p.m. near the Nichols Fountain on the Plaza, holding signs and chanting, “black lives matter.”
But as the hours grew later, the tension grew with it.
“If you don’t speak up and don’t say anything, you’re just like the officers that stood by and watched,” Randy Fikki said.
Fikki, who’s half-black, said he always has to be on alert when he sees a police officer. He said many people try to ignore race or say they don’t see color, but Fikki believes that’s part of the problem.
“Your ignorance is not proof of your innocence,” he said. “The fact that you are remaining ignorant, you are no different than the individual who had their knee on that gentlemen’s neck.”
Anna Maria Kretzer brought her 10-year-old son to Friday’s protest. She said it’s her responsibility to make sure her son understands it’s not right to kill people without repercussions.
“I have to have a talk with him to make sure he doesn’t grow up to be one of those cops who kills a black man or a black woman,” she said. “I have to make sure that cycle doesn’t continue to him.”
Many protesters FOX4 talked with said they’re not necessarily anti-police, but they’re tired of seeing black men killed at the hands of law enforcement.
Protesters said if there’s ever going to be change, everybody needs to have a voice, and people need to hear the voices of those who are different from them.
As the night wore on, many protesters tried to take over the streets of the Plaza, which pushed police into action.
Officers blocked off several streets, diverting vehicle traffic, and formed lines to keep people off the roads. Using loud speakers, they urged protesters to stay on the sidewalks, saying they didn’t want to spray any of them.
A KCPD spokesman said they’ve seen at least four people with guns, and they “addressed” it. At 1 a.m. police declared an unlawful assembly after rocks and bottles were thrown, windows were broken at some businesses and three or four police cars were damaged. Officers deployed pepper spray and the last of the non-lawful protesters left the area. No businesses were entered, and no looting occurred. There were some arrests, but no official number yet and no damage estimates are available.