Protests at City Hall draw the city’s attention as a coalition occupation takes hold
Right out of the gate on Monday morning we have a full day of protests happening around the metro area.
First and foremost, there is an occupation happening outside City Hall, as a coalition of civil rights groups are on their fourth day of living on the front steps. This is a united response to a recently surfaced video of a KCPD police officer violently brutalizing a 9-month pregnant woman. She was two weeks due when she was assaulted by KCPD and hospitalized twice as a result. Protestors are demanding immediate change, including the firing of Chief Smith and the officer involved in the arrest.
Stacy Shaw of Liberty Lawyers is representing the pregnant woman and co-leading the demonstration at her request. As she told The Pitch early this morning, “We keep getting arrested and coming right back. We’re going to keep doing that. Chief Smith is going to quit before I quit.”
Starting Friday night, viral videos and social media posts turned masses of protestors to City Hall, pitching tents in the cold rain across from KCPD headquarters. A confrontation escalated when officers attempted to forcibly remove the demonstrators, but protestors defused the situation by citing their first amendment rights.
They were defended by City Councilwoman Katheryn Shields, who argued that “they’re on city property.”
The newly founded settlement dubbed The People’s City occupies the entire front portion of City Hall, and includes a small tent city where protesters have been sleeping. Additionally, there are supply stations, a small “library” of books, and COVID-19 protections—including contact tracing, temperature checks, hourly required hand sanitation and more.
An early morning emergency City Council meeting regarding the legality of the protest has seemingly been cancelled.
The KC Coalition for Black Lives includes Black Rainbow, La Chingona Collective, Liberty Lawyers, Operation Liberation, Miller Dream LLC, It’s Time 4 Justice, White Rose KC, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Urban League, and Sunrise Movement KC.
The protesters are waiting to see whether they will face backlash from the KCPD today, after and attempted disbanding of the event in the early morning hours.
We will update as information continues to come in.
Also occurring around City Hall today is the third weekly protest in support of Gabriel Leonard. Leonard claims to have been unjustly prosecuted and imprisoned in 2013 regarding four felony counts involving a former relationship partner and possibly a series of racial-motivated courtroom misconduct. For more information on Leonard’s case and to find a petition regarding his situation, you can read up on the events in question via this site.
Pitch photographer Jim Nimmo shot a photo essay of The People’s City throughout the weekend: