Plaza protester describes frustration, confusion over arrests when demonstration turned chaotic

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A plan to invalidate most Kansas City protester arrests is now headed to the full city council. We’re now learning more about how it would work.

When protests on the Country Club Plaza started on Friday, May 29th in response to George Floyd’s death, things were pretty peaceful.

“It was reasonable and I went home kind of proud of Kansas City,” said protester Brad Burns.

So Burns, who had never protested before, decided to go back and join demonstrations again Saturday night. But instantly, he realized things were very different.

“I thought I got something in my eye and then was like—did they tear gas?” Burns recalled.

KCPD has said as officers were attacked by some protesters, they were forced to repeatedly use tear gas and other methods, including rubber bullets and bean bag guns, to help disperse the crowds.  

Burns says he was standing on the curb and saw people running down the street, but had no indication of exactly what was happening and why.

“I did not hear any sort of communication that this was an unlawful assembly,” said Burns.

He says he approached an officer with hands up and was grabbed by police.

“The officer yelled at me, ‘Do you want to get arrested?’ and I just said, ‘Where do I you want me to go, man?'” Burns said.

He was handcuffed and taken to jail, ultimately cited for “failing to obey police orders.”  He says it took several hours to get processed and he had to fork out a $500 cash bond.  

KCPD says stations were asked to hold protesters to see if they could post bond, but without an actual jail to take them to and unable to handle a huge court docket load, most protesters were eventually let out on signature bond.  

It’s all left Burns confused and frustrated.

“There’s no justification for it,” he said.

The Kansas City, Mo. city council could now toss out most municipal charges against protesters like him, excluding those charged with violent offenses, theft and property damage.

“It’s not like you can be like this never happened. So yeah, there’s a level of righting a wrong, but myself, and I think everyone else, the 230 people, have no clue what this means legally, have no clue what this will mean for their permanent record,” said Burns.

If the city council approves the proposed measured, KCPD says any mug shots taken of protesters and their arrest records would be “rendered obsolete.”  The full council is expected to vote on the plan Thursday.

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