“We Are Here to Inconvenience You”: Friday Night Protest Demands KC’s Attention

Brynn Laurel

10/30/2020- Kansas City, Missouri

Activist KJ Brooks speaks to people in the Power and Light district during Friday's protest

Photo by Andrei Stoica

“We are here to inconvenience you,” said Steve Young, one of the founders of the regular Friday night protest, as protesters stopped in the Power and Light district in Kansas City, Missouri to talk to those eating and socializing in the area.

“People can’t come back from death,” said activist KJ Brooks. “But you can go back to your dinner.”

Protesters spoke about local victims of police brutality. They reiterated their demand to fire Police Chief Rick Smith for allowing such acts of brutality—such as Blayne Newton kneeling on Deja Stallings’ back or the shooting of Donnie Sanders earlier this year—to continue.

“Open your eyes, Kansas City. Open your fucking eyes. It’s happening right here, in Kansas City. It’s not just on TV in other cities. It’s right here, in your city,” Young told those in Power and Light.

The event marked the 21st week of Friday night protests and began outside police headquarters at 1125 Locust. Before marching to Power and Light, the group marched past the Jackson County Detention Center. There, protesters chanted in solidarity outside while those held in the detention center flashed their lights, waved and banged on the windows, and displayed signs—an interaction that has become a regular part of the Friday night protests.

In Power and Light, however, protesters’ goal was to bring attention to police brutality in a way Kansas City could not ignore.

“The chief of police is withholding evidence from the prosecutor. He’s not holding his officers accountable. That ain’t right,” Young said. “You need to know this, Kansas City. Chief Rick Smith has got to go, Kansas City. He is not a leader. He’s not a leader. He’s protecting killer cops on his force.”

Brooks also spoke in Power and Light, citing longstanding corruption and lack of trust in the policing system. “The policing system is derivative of slave patrol, and you want us to trust the very system that was created to capture and reintegrate people back into slavery?”

Protesters demanded justice, accountability, and transparency from KCPD and urged others to do the same by emailing the Board of Police Commissioners to demand Smith’s termination.

“Maybe some of you don’t know. Maybe some of you don’t care. But we’re here to let you know that Black lives matter in Kansas City, and they’re not going to keep being killed by the Kansas City Police Department,” Young said.

Published on: 11/1/2020