Black Panther Party marches from Troost to Prospect to show community support
On a hot Saturday the morning of July 3, the Revolutionary Black Panther Party of Kansas City led by General Indigenous Xi hosted a peaceful march with armed but unloaded weapons from Troost Boulevard to Prospect Avenue.
The protest was comprised of approximately 75 people, including Black Panthers and social justice activists of all ages and races. They marched to the intersection at 75th and Prospect where they stopped traffic in all directions for approximately 25 minutes within sight of a KCPD patrol station. Then, they marched back to Troost Avenue where General Xi gave a short talk on how Black Panthers support their local community.
From start to finish, the protest was peaceful, and with the exception of a planned act of civil disobedience by blocking traffic, the march was legal. Traffic was backed up for a considerable distance from the protester’s actions, but nobody honked in anger.
The marchers exercised their Second Amendment rights under Missouri Open Carry Law. Many were heavily armed and carrying a mix of handguns, semi-automatic rifles, and shotguns. The weapons were legally purchased and registered.
When asked why an armed march was planned, multiple participants gave variations of the same response: It is their legal right to do so and protests in other cities have suffered attacks by police, white supremacists, and drivers who deliberately run down marchers in the road. The protestors have the same rights to protect themselves that others do. Or, as one marcher put it, “When we march with signs, they pepper spray us. When we march with guns, they leave us alone.”
Safety was a concern for the organizers of the march. As the event was being promoted on social media, The Revolutionary Black Panther Party released a video giving firearm safety tips and rules for the march. The meeting place was several blocks from the start of the march and the actual location of the march was kept secret until the march started. Media was required to register and then assigned wrist bands to identify us to marchers. All weapons were checked by the organizers to ensure they had empty chambers before anyone was allowed to march. As they marched, a drone circled overhead providing a video record of their actions and keeping watch for anyone attempting to interrupt the march.
As the marchers returned to Troost Boulevard, I asked General Xi why they chose to march east of Troost instead of west towards the more affluent neighborhoods of Brookside and the Plaza. He replied that they went east because that is where the people they represent live.
The importance of the march was to represent Black power to the community they serve, not to annoy Brookside. The mission of the organization is to uplift the Black community, and that’s best done in the Black community. Black Panther members had spent the previous few days walking the march route and alerting neighbors to their planned activities. All along the route, neighbors came outside to stand with raised fists as the protesters marched past. At one point, a funeral procession came up behind the marchers who immediately moved to the side of the road and stood with raised fists until the funeral had passed by.
Xi and attorney/activist Stacy Shaw spoke together on the inequities between the east and west side of Troost during the return march. Shaw pointed out the lack of sidewalks on 75th Street east side of Troost and the fact that if you go west on 75th into the Brookside neighborhood, you find pristine sidewalks on both sides of the street. This led to a discussion of generational wealth and how much of it was stolen in the past from the Black community. They also discussed the seemingly impassable political differences that midtown Kansas City has with the First and Second districts north of the river and how that affects Kansas City policing.
At the end of the peaceful and successful march, General Xi spent a few moments informing both non-Panther marchers and onlookers from the corner gas station about the programs offered to the community by the Black Panthers. These activities include working with domestic abuse victims, offering safety classes in firearm use, and breakfast programs for children.