Two Arrested, Issued Citations at Friday Protest

Brynn Laurel

9/25/2020- Kansas City, Missouri

Demonstrators stand in front of the downtown KCMO police station statue where a Black Lives Matters flag was placed as a memorial

Photo by Andrei Stoica

On Friday, September 25, protestors gathered outside Kansas City, Missouri Police Department headquarters at 1125 Locust for a weekly protest honoring those murdered by KCPD.

Steve Young, who has been organizing Friday night protests at KCPD headquarters for 17 weeks, explained that the location at the police memorial is because the memorial honors KCPD officers—while ignoring the lives they’ve taken.

“They don’t want us to pay tribute and honor the Black lives that they’ve taken,” he told protestors at the event. “This is our commitment to all the Black lives.”

Young explained the weekly protest in a separate interview: “We prop (plywood signs) onto the police memorial. We don’t deface the memorial. We don’t do anything to cause destruction or harm to the memorial. And then we hang the BLM flag around it, and we’ll tie it up with some twine.”

The signs have photos and stories of victims of KCPD violence, as well as photos and emails for the Board of Police Commissioners in Kansas City, who protestors encouraged people to email in order to demand they remove Police Chief Rick Smith.

“They prefer to tell us to remove the Black lives, to remove the flag, because they want to protect this memorial to cops and ignore all the Black lives that were lost to cops,” Young said. He explained that, initially, they were told by a sergeant that they could try up the flag with twine. However, a few weeks ago, they came to protest and found a chain fence around the statue with “no trespassing” signs—even though the statue sits on public property.

Speakers Discuss Police Corruption, Protestor Demands

Sheryl Ferguson, activist and head of ItsTime4Justice, also spoke, citing recent accusations that protestors had not been clear enough about their demands. She read aloud the demands of 8 Can’t Wait, and discussed KCPD’s refusal to give KJ, a 19-year-old Black woman who was one of the five protestors arrested on Wednesday night, a female officer to search her, even after KJ requested a female officer.

“Apparently, if you’re a cop, you can touch and feel wherever you want as long as you do it with the back of your hand,” Ferguson said. “And they don’t see the need for reform?”

KJ spoke later in the evening and confirmed Ferguson’s account of the arrests. She also said that rather than using risk-terrain policing, which leads to over-policing of Black communities, we should invest in housing and other supports that would actually make communities safer.

In addition to 8 Can’t Wait, Ferguson also called for the removal of Smith as well as, specifically, for any committee considering and overseeing changes to match the demographics of those most often cited, arrested, and incarcerated by KCPD.

Rachel Hudson, another speaker, talked about the new fence and “no trespassing” signs around the memorial, which were the grounds used to make all five arrests and citations for trespassing on Wednesday.

“What the fuck is a chain to my freedom?” Hudson asked the crowed. “Are we back in slavery? You thought chains were going to keep us?”

Another speaker, Ky, summarized the need for change this way: “I’m done with saying thank you for little changes to protect my life that shouldn’t have been up for debate to begin with.”

“I don’t say defund the police anymore,” she said. “I say abolish them.”

2 Arrested, Cited for Trespassing

Two protestors were arrested and cited for trespassing after placing signs, flowers, and candles around the memorial and tying the Black Lives Matter flag to it with twine. While protestors have previously been mailed trespassing citations following protests, both protestors—like the protestors on Wednesday—were detained and taken to a patrol station before being given their citation.

The first protestor arrested, Misha, was arrested during the protest as she waited with the memorial while most protestors marched—first past the Jackson County Detention Center and then through Power and Light. She was cited for trespassing and held on bond. She later returned to the protest, where protestors celebrated her return with singing and dancing in front of KCPD headquarters.

The second protestor arrested, Chris Bizzle Jr., however, was not detained at the protest. Instead, he was arrested as he and several other protestors returned to their parking garage. Bizzle said he was initially confronted by two officers who said he was being detained, then that he was being cited but not detained. Eventually, the group of protestors, who circled around Bizzle, was surrounded by several police cards and more than eight officers.

Bizzle said he was arrested for helping to tie the Black Lives Matter flag to the memorial, light candles, place flowers, and lean signs honoring Black lives taken by KCPD.

He said he was first told he was being detained, then that he wasn’t being arrested but was getting a citation, and then, he said, “They snatched happened so fast.”

Although he said officers later threatened to charge him with resisting the officer, he said he didn’t resist arrest. “I didn’t say get off of me, I didn’t try to run away from them, or nothing like that. Once they got me, they got me,” he said.

Bizzle said that although he was ultimately only cited for trespassing, he was repeatedly questioned, kept in handcuffs even after asking for them to be loosened or removed, searched, and taken to two different patrol stations before being released—no bond, even though he said he’d been threatened with that too.

“They said so many things, and I just sat there quiet, to be honest,” he said. “Police officers feel like they have power, and I think they were just trying to discourage me.”

But Bizzle said he’s far from discouraged and will be back out protesting. Weekly protests on Fridays at 6 p.m. in front of the police headquarters will continue, among other events across the metro.

“We’re still fighting for change,” he said.

Published on: 9/26/2020