This week’s March On Kansas City established peaceful protest as the continuing standard
Hundreds of protesters gathered downtown in front of police headquarters in the middle of a hot, summer afternoon on Friday, September 4th. They were there to participate in The March on Kansas City to honor the 57th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington. The march was hosted by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Urban League and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The plan was to march through downtown to Liberty Memorial for a rally and speeches.
Now I have enough conservative friends on Facebook to know how this event was supposed to end. Violence, property damage, assaults, and general mayhem. I know this because every meme and story by my conservative friends emphasize the violence that occurs at every protest. But that’s not true and it definitely was not what happened on Friday afternoon in Kansas City.
What happened in real life is that people peacefully marched to Liberty Memorial. A variety of speakers spoke passionately to a peaceful crowd. Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver spoke of the importance of peaceful protest, telling the gathered crowd, “Martin Luther King marched in daylight so people could see them protest.” Other speakers called for the firing of Chief of Police Rick Smith. Some demanded police reforms in line with the “Eight Can’t Wait” agenda, which calls for banning chokeholds and multiple police accountability actions.
Brandon Henderson, President of the Student Government Association for UMKC told of the experiences of students and their interactions with police during the first weekend of protests. Parents of children whom were killed by local police spoke with anger about the procedural difficulties in pursuing investigations of police misconduct. Children of those killed by police stood by silently as witness to their loss. There was no Antifa violence.
Regardless of what you read on Facebook, the Friday march was the “norm” for this summer’s protests all across the country. Yes, there have been protests that devolved into riots as the sun went down. But those violent protests are by far and away in the minority.
Princeton University released a study of this summer’s protests. By their count, between May 26th and August 22nd, there were over 7,750 demonstrations linked to the Black Lives Matter movement. These demonstrations occurred in all 50 states in over 2,440 locations. Of these protests, 93% were peaceful. The roughly 570 violent protests took place in fewer than 220 locations. In those locations where riots took place more than once, the rioting was limited to specific blocks. Some of the protests, such as the Washington Square protest, are listed as violent but it is noted that the violence was started by authorities. Interactions with counter-protesters were listed as violent as well, contributing to that 570 total regardless of who started the violence.
I am in no way condoning the violence. But I also refuse to condone the right-wing misinformation campaign that dominates social media. Protesters are not burning entire cities. They’re not coming for the suburbs next to track up your lawn and pee in your swimming pool. They’re not busing Antifa to rural areas to burn your cornfields. But the Anti-Defamation League insists that there are numerous social media campaigns designed to make you believe all that and more. The infamous trending twitter topic of Antifa attacking the suburbs originated with the Twitter account @ANTIFA_US. “Tonight we say ‘Fuck The City’ and we move into the residential areas…the white hoods…and we take what’s ours.” Twitter has since suspended the account and linked it to Identity Evropa, a white supremacist group.
Similar posts flooded the social media accounts of Joplin, Mo earlier this summer. A legitimate, peaceful protest was scheduled and promoted on social media but rumors of Antifa busing in protesters to riot through the streets of Joplin prompted local businessmen to spend thousands of dollars on plywood to board up shop windows. There were no buses of Antifa, there was no violence…just one more of over 7,100 peaceful protests this summer.
The March on Kansas City was another.