Police Arrest 5 Protestors at Solidarity Protest for Breonna Taylor

Brynn Laurel

9/23/2020- Kansas City, Missouri

Steve Young at an earlier protest in front of the downtown KCMO police station

Photo by Andrei Stoica

Last night, between 100 and 150 protestors gathered in front of the Kansas City Police Headquarters at 1125 Locust to protest against the news of no murder charges for the officers involved in the murder of Breonna Taylor and to continue demand greater accountability for KCPD, including the removal of Police Chief Rick Smith.

“We are out here for Breonna Taylor and our local victims of Kansas City Police Department’s violence and brutality against Black and brown people in Kansas City,” KJ X told 41 Action News on a Facebook Live interview at the event.

“I will take a ride in a paddywagon and 20 hours in a cell if it means preventing someone from dying. I can come out of jail. People can’t come back from dying. So while they think that we’re so afraid and, you know, we’re just so lawless, we are uncivil—no. What’s uncivil is murdering civilians and not being held accountable for it,” she explained.

KJ was one of five protestors arrested yesterday on charges of trespassing, by going inside the chain fence around the police department’s statue to fallen officers to tie a Black Lives Matter flag to the memorial and to lean plywood board with the photos and names of victims of police murders in Kansas City.

One protestor, Josiah Hamilton, was arrested during the event. The other four were arrested following the protest, as they were on their way to wait outside the jail for protestor release. All five protestors—who were taken to separate police patrol locations across the metro—were bailed out by Operation Liberation. At the time of publication, the only known charges against protestors was for trespassing.

Two of the other arrested protestors were Steve Young and Winifred Jamieson, who have led a weekly Friday night protest in front of the Kansas City Police Department for 17 weeks. Their protests have centered on police headquarters, in the hopes that, by holding space for the victims of KCPD violence, for their names, and for their stories, that perhaps, police will listen and change.

For them, last night’s protest was both for Taylor and for Kansas City’s local victims of police violence.

“It was about supporting a Black woman who was killed in her sleep, where again, it shows that we have two justice systems, you know? One for white and one for Black. It’s just not a just system for us,” Young explained. “It’s at the cost of too many Black and brown lives for (police) to have that power, and I’m not willing to accept that at all.”

Jamieson and Young were stopped as they were getting onto Highway 71, on their way to provide jail support for Hamilton. They said there were at least eight police cars, and that they were taken by separate vehicles to a different patrol station than where other protestors were held.

Jamieson said she had a “moment of clarity” during that arrest. “I looked around to all the people that were there, and I was like, ‘There was a one year old boy that was murdered yesterday…don’t you think that your time and resources would be better spent towards that?’”

Their response was “We’ll get him,” she said, so she asked, “Well who killed Donnie Sanders?”

The officer said he didn’t know who that was.

“How can you be a police officer in Kansas City and not know who Donnie Sanders is?” Jamieson said. “That was just a moment for me of just clarity of just how detached they are from the people that they have sworn to protect and serve…After the weeks and weeks and months and months of calling his name, of bringing his sister out to actions to speak, how do they not know who Donnie Sanders is when it was one of them who was responsible for his murder?”

Donnie Sanders was killed by the Kansas City Police Department hours before Breonna Taylor was killed by officers in Louisville, Kentucky. His story—along with stories of Terrance Bridges, Cameron Lamb, Brianna Hill, and many others—has been honored at the KCPD headquarter protests organized by the Jamiesons, which demand, among other things, the release of the name of the officer who killed Sanders and the removal of Chief Rick Smith.

The fifth protestor arrested was Justice Thomas, a former Marine who said he was also cited for trespassing after helping tie the flag to the memorial. He was also pulled over after leaving the event. He said he was a passenger in a car, and was the only one asked to leave the car, where he was told he was being arrested for trespassing.

Thomas said what struck him about the arrests was the timing—waiting until four of the five arrested protestors had left the event. “The crazy thing to me is if we were right there and the cops are supposed to do their job…aren’t you supposed to do your job then and there?” he said. “Or it’s a wolf tactic, by dispersing the crowd and waiting until that person is easier to obtain.”

Thomas said his attendance at last night’s protest was, for him, tied to his promise to serve and protect.

“Being a former Marine, I made a pledge to this country to uphold the Constitution and to protect this country against all enemies foreign and domestic, and if I can’t do that here in my own country, then why should I even be overseas?” he said.

In spite of arrests and citations, protestors say they’re not going to stop. Protestors gathered again tonight (Thursday) at City Hall and plan to gather tomorrow outside Kansas City Police Headquarters again tomorrow for the weekly 6 p.m. protest.

“We’re committed to this fight, to this struggle, so as long as they’re willing to support us and come out in numbers, me and Win are going to be there,” Young said. “There’s a system here in Kansas City that’s oppressing and brutalizing a whole community, and so it has to be fixed. Period. It has to come down. It has to be abolished.”

Correction was made to article on 9/24/2020 due to the misnaming of Steve Young. We apologize for the error and have updated the story.

Published on: 9/24/2020