One year later, group continues to hold protests outside KCPD headquarters

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On Friday night, local activists marked one year of weekly protests in Kansas City following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

The group has been pushing to raise awareness about local police brutality and killings and continuing its calls for change.

They’ve met outside KCPD Headquarters every Friday night, and even though it’s been one year, their demands have not changed.

“Nothing’s been done. It’s almost like it’s fallen on death ears,” said Steve Young, who organized the weekly protests. “We are out there every Friday. The police record us. They see us. Not one of them ever came out just to talk to us. There’s no action being taken when it comes to some of the local victims that’s being killed.”

On Friday, the group marched around downtown and gathered in front of the Kansas City Police Department Headquarters to honor people killed by Kansas City police. This time a new name was added to the list: Malcolm Johnson.

Earlier this week, Kansas City faith leaders released surveillance video in his death, criticizing the shooting. Then a few days later, new cellphone footage was released showing another vantage point of the incident.

“Malcolm Johnson falls right in with Cameron Lamb, Ryan Stokes, Donnie Sanders, Terrence Bridges. He falls right in because it is another Black man that was executed,” Young said. “The most amount of force is always used against us.”

An officer shot and killed Johnson after Kansas City police say he fired first on March 25 inside a BP gas station. Police were attempting to take him into custody because he had been accused in a domestic violence shooting.

But the group has been protesting all these weeks for many others beyond Johnson. Other families of people killed by KCPD officers also attended Friday.

Narene Stokes is still hoping for change. Her son, Ryan Stokes, was fatally shot by a police officer in 2013 after being falsely accused of stealing a cellphone.

“Going into eight years now since Ryan’s death. Ryan’s death wasn’t considered televised, videoed. Nobody really had camera action (that) these young men are having,” Narene Stokes said. “There can be real justice. There can be real change if they just listen.”

Activists said they’re also demanding transparency, accountability and the removal of KCPD Chief Rick Smith.

“We are going to keep doing it. This is something that can’t stop until we actually see some significant change here in Kansas City. These names have to stay fresh in people’s minds,” Young said.

The shooting of Johnson is being investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. KCPD said it cannot comment while that investigation is ongoing.

But the department said it has been working on changes to improve transparency and better community relations.

The department recently passed two new policies. The first requires all officers to wear body cameras. Officers are prohibited from intentionally disabling, damaging or blocking their recording gear, which also includes dash cameras mounted in patrol cars.

KCPD also passed a policy on engaging with protesters; it explicitly prohibits officers from using less-lethal weapons and munitions to disperse crowds in the event of an unlawful assembly.

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