KCMO Friday Night Protest Continues Despite Resistance

Brynn Laurel

11/6/2020- Kansas City, Missouri

Matt Rog, a retired Kansas City police officer confronts protesters at the Friday night protest on November 6.

Photo by Andrei Stoica

On November 6, as the first protesters arrived for the regular Friday night protest at Kansas City, Missouri Police Headquarters, they were met with resistance from two other individuals who claimed they were protecting KCPD property.

One of the individuals, Matt Rog, a retired KCPD officer who worked as an undercover officer, was sitting near the police memorial at 1125 Locust, where protesters normally set up their memorial on Fridays. The protester memorial includes flowers, candles and plywood boards with photos and names of local victims of police brutality. In recent weeks, protesters have leaned these boards against the chain fence that surrounds the memorial and placed flowers and candles in front of them.

Steve Young and Winifred Jamieson, the founders of the Friday night protest, said they arrived before other protesters to set up the memorial. Rog told them he was there to protect the memorial. When Jamieson and Young leaned their signs against the memorial, Rog threw them down, a pattern that repeated several times, per a video of the incident.

“I am here because this goddamn statue means something, and you are not going to desecrate this statue,” Rog told Jamieson. Jamieson said their group had never desecrated the statue, and that they always stayed outside the chain fence.

Rog continued to throw the signs down as Jamieson replaced them. "I can't shove you, but you get in my way, I'm going to go through you,” he said on Jamieson’s video, before walking forward toward her camera. Jamieson said Rog intentionally body checked her on several occasions. KCPD Captain Daniel Graves later claimed no assault occurred and that the two simply bumped into each other while facing away from each other.

KCPD Sergeant Todd Templeton, who was one of several KCPD officers watching the exchange, said neither Rog nor Jamieson were breaking laws. He said Rog was allowed to continue to remove the signs. Rog continued to do so, at times by throwing and stepping on them.

Jamieson said Rog damaged their property, including tearing one of the signs, damage she showed on video, while KCPD was watching. Both Templeton and Rog denied that there was damage to the signs. “They literally watched him throw our property around,” she commented later.

"One of you is going to end up in jail if this ends up in a physical confrontation,” Templeton said.

Many of the protesters expressed frustration at KCPD’s inaction during the exchange. Sheryl Ferguson of It’s Time 4 Justice said if she’d done something similar at a Back the Blue rally, “I’d have been in handcuffs.”

When asked for comment on the incident, activist Ky Williams of White Rose KC answered, “Fuck 12”—a sentiment echoed by many other protesters throughout the night.

Property and the First Amendment

As engagement with Rog continued, Jamieson and other protesters pointed out that they were leaning signs against the fence, not crossing the fence’s no trespassing line, and that they had a right to protest.

"It's coming down, man,” Rog told one protester regarding one of the plywood signs. “It's coming down, man. It will come down. It will come down. And if you stop me from taking it down, then you'll be arrested. Got it?”

CW, a local organizer, said that he engaged Rog as protesters were arriving, and that their exchange was verbally confrontational. “It was only when people started to show up that he got less confrontational,” he said.

As the group of protesters grew, some continued to engage Rog while others formed a barrier in front of him while the rest of the protest continued.

Attorney and activist Stacy Shaw addressed protesters regarding Rog. “This is white supremacy culture,” she said. “They are requiring space that we have already claimed…We are not only protesting the police department; we are resisting white supremacy.”

Another individual, who asked to be named as Terry and identified himself as a retired police officer, joined Rog and engaged with various protesters, including Shaw, who asked him to push for Chief Rick Smith to retire early. Terry said the Board of Police Commissioners would make a decision like that.

“He (Smith) can stay as long as he wants, Stacy,” Terry said. “It’s up to the board.”

Masks and Protection

After the majority of protesters left to march past the Jackson County Detention Center and through the Power and Light District, Rog and Terry stayed behind with a smaller group of protesters, where conversations continued with varied levels of verbal confrontation.

Another group of KCPD officers came out on the steps of KCPD Headquarters, where Graves talked with protesters regarding reports of assault. He reiterated that no assault had occurred and denied property damage to protesters signs.

“I’ve been out there for how many weeks protecting (protesters),” Graves said. “We’ve been nothing but respectful for you.”

“I wasn’t protected the night I got arrested,” said Misha, an organizer with White Rose Society who was arrested on trespassing charges for crossing the chain fence when the fence first went up at the beginning of September.

Misha also asked Graves why he was not wearing a mask—something that had been asked of Rog as well, to which he responded that “there isn't a mask mandate in this city…(because) we’re outside.” Graves said he doesn’t like masks because “then I have a hard time communicating.”

The current mask mandate states that “all Kansas Citians must wear a face covering or mask while indoors in an area of public accommodation when the physical distancing requirement of 6 feet cannot be met.”

Lack of compliance with mask and other COVID-19 mandates have been a consistent criticism from protesters toward KCPD officers and other city and county officials. Protesters have also repeatedly cited concerns about unmanaged COVID-19 outbreaks in the Jackson County Detention Center.

Cameron Lamb and the BOPC

Ferguson and Graves also discussed the recent Board of Police Commissioners. Graves claimed she and other protesters from outside KCMO had taken up too much space with their comments. Ferguson disagreed, saying that she was present at the meeting to represent the family of Cameron Lamb, who was killed by a KCPD officer in December 2019.

Graves asked Ferguson why Lamb’s family didn’t just show up themselves.

Ferguson later reiterated that she has been advocating for justice for Lamb since his death, and that it shouldn’t matter that she currently lives in Kansas because of her job—and that she might not even live in Kansas much longer.

“Graves might have to answer to me in the future,” she said. “So he might want to watch himself.”

Graves also told Ferguson that she didn’t understand Lamb’s case, asking if she’d seen his file and commenting, “I can tell that you’re talking about things you haven’t read about.”

Ferguson called Graves’ comments “oxymoronish,” noting that Graves should know that the public has not been given access to those files. She then discussed Lamb’s death, including her own conversations with eyewitnesses about Lamb’s actions. She said his only crime the day of his death had been chasing his girlfriend in her car, and that he had later deescalated the situation himself by going home.

Ferguson said Lamb even told his friend, who had asked about the police helicopters overhead, “They’re not here for me.”

“They (police) planted a gun in a hand that Cameron would not have been capable of firing a gun with,” she added, noting that he was missing part of his index finger on the hand police found a gun in, and that he had nerve damage that would have prevented him from shooting with that hand.

Egg Thrown at Protesters

While the smaller group of protesters remained in discussion with Rog, Terry, and KCPD officers outside police headquarters, the majority of the protesters marched their normal route past Jackson County Detention Center and through the Power and Light district.

On their way back, protesters said someone threw an egg from a balcony and a car revved its engine as if about to drive through protesters, among other threats.

Ryan Sorrell of Black Rainbow estimated eight incidents of third-party hostility on just that evening. He said he thought the election was probably the immediate reason for the increase in incidents, but that he sees it tied to a much larger issue.

“People are incredibly emboldened…there is racial resentment, white supremacy—it was validated by the election,” he said. “It’s been building for 400 years.

Published on: 11/8/2020