KCPD won’t present to council committee about the Trump rally on Wednesday after all

The Kansas City Neighborhoods and Public Safety Committee is used to hearing from representatives from the Kansas City Police Department — but they won’t on Wednesday, days after the police received criticism for how it handled crowds at a Donald Trump rally.

KCPD officers arrested four people and pepper-sprayed several more on Saturday outside the Midland Theater, where noted blowhard and GOP front-running presidential candidate  Trump held a campaign rally.

Kansas City’s rally took place the day after Trump canceled a planned event on the campus of the University of Illinois-Chicago after tensions arose between angry white dudes Trump supporters and protesters. 

Trump’s campaign planks include banning Muslims from coming into the United States and building a wall between the United States and Mexico to keep immigrants from crossing the nation’s southern border. It’s not exactly a peaceful message. His rhetoric at rallies can reasonably be interpreted as inciting tension and violence.

KCPD officers had good reason to be on high alert, given Trump’s approach to politicking and the fact that crowds were already packed downtown that evening for the Big 12 Conference men’s basketball championship final.

It’s less clear about whether they were justified in using force against protesters.

A planned appearance by a KCPD major to discuss the Trump rally, which had been on the Neighborhoods and Public Safety Committee’s published agenda Monday, was removed on Tuesday. It would have been an opportunity to clear the air about what  transpired on Saturday. 

“The PD will be busy planning for the St Pats parade is the reason we will not be present at the meeting,” KCPD spokesman Darin Snapp tells The Pitch via e-mail.

Members of the committee understood that the reason the KCPD pulled itself from Wednesday’s meeting was because Chief Darryl Forte is on vacation and wanted to be the one taking and answering questions.

“I completely disagree with it,” says 3rd District at-large Councilman Quinton Lucas, who sits on the committee. “Every week we have a police major meet with our committee.”

As it stands, the main official statement from the KCPD is a blog post written by Forte, in which he defends his department’s handling of the Trump rally. In sum, Forte says crowds spilled out onto Main Street, creating disturbances with vehicle traffic and between unruly individuals. When crowds ignored police instructions to keep off the street, Forte says, the police deployed pepper spray.

“Given the circumstances, our officers exercised great restraint,” Forte writes. “And this [Sunday] morning, no windows are boarded up downtown. No one suffered any injuries beyond the temporary discomfort of pepper spray. The National Guard is not in Kansas City today to restore order.”

Kansas City Mayor Sly James has defended the police department’s actions, noting among other things that a protester had punched a KCPD horse.

If that’s true, KCPD seems to have rough luck with people punching its horses. A parade-goer in 2014 got arrested at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade for decking a police horse in the face. Before that, an 18-year-old was arrested for punching a police horse in Ruskin Park.

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