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Kansas Citians Take To The Streets For A Second Night Of Protest Over The Death Of George Floyd

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Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
People scatter amid a cloud of tear gas during demonstrations Saturday night at Kansas City's Country Club Plaza.

Another protest rally is planned for this afternoon, as Kansas City assesses damage from last night. This story is updated regularly.

KCUR journalists will be updating this story throughout Day 3. Go here for Sunday's coverage.

7 a.m. — Like those in many communities around the country, Kansas City residents are awaking this morning to the aftermath of protests that brought violence and vandalism last night.

City and surrounding police departments worked into the night to disperse crowds who gathered for a second night to express anger, grief and a need for justice after the latest high-profile incident of a police officer killing a black man in the street.

The protests began peacefully in the Country Club Plaza area late afternoon Saturday, but by 9 p.m. several had been arrested and police had used tear gas to disperse the crowd. Before midnight, windows at several plaza buildings had been broken, a police cruiser had been burned and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson had issued a state of emergency "due to civil unrest" in Kansas City and St. Louis.

Kansas City police have secured all entrances around the perimeter of the plaza this morning, turning away runners and dog walkers, and turning around all vehicle traffic. Business people and their crews are clearing glass and assessing graffiti throughout the plaza. The mayor has called a news conference at noon.

A third day of protests is expected to resume this afternoon in the city.
From Saturday's events:

11:10 p.m. — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas pleaded for calm late Saturday night as demonstrations intended to honor George Floyd continued.

On Twitter, Lucas said, "I know folks are hurting, but please, no matter our pain or anger, let’s make sure we all get home safely. I know we have a lot to fix and work on. Let’s do it together. I’m in. But, let’s not have more hurt tonight."

Graffiti could be seen on a parking garage near 47th and J.C. Nichols Parkway, across from Mill Creek Park, where demonstrators first began congregating hours earlier.

There was evidence of damage throughout the Plaza, including a broken out window at Ricca Sposa Bridal Boutique along Ward Parkway.

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Carlos Moreno
A broken window on the front of Ricca Sposa Bridal Boutique along Ward Parkway.

The stinging smell of tear gas drifted into areas of the West Plaza neighborhood several blocks away.

Meanwhile, a large police presence at Truman Road and Locust in downtown Kansas City was seen after 10 p.m. At least two arrests, but a small crowd soon dispersed after that.

10:45 p.m. — A Kansas City Police cruiser could be seen ablaze near 47th and Wyandotte. Meanwhile, Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers began to gather nearby.

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Aviva Okeson-Haberman
A police cruiser could be seen burning near 47th and Wyandotte along the Country Club Plaza Saturday night.

There were numerous reports of graffiti and property damage.

“We’re not going to tolerate that in this part of the city. We’re not going to tolerate that in any part of the city," Mayor Quinton Lucas said.

10:30 p.m. — Arrests continue to be made as protesters spar with police in and around the Country Club Plaza.

In a news release at 10 p.m., Capt. David Jackson with KCPD said "several large violent groups of protesters have thrown bottles and rocks, blocked streets, looted businesses and been unlawful."

"Outside agencies have responded. We have deployed gas," the release said.

At around the same time, KCPD tweeted that protesters were "trying to break into businesses on the Plaza."

Broken windows could be seen at the Nike store and at the Ricca Sposa wedding dress store. A door at Seasons 47 restaurant appeared busted and a trash can in a fountain.

In nearby Mill Creek Park chemicals were deployed at about 10:15 p.m., but demonstrators continued to edge close to a line of police officers.

Earlier, Mayor Quinton Lucas addressed the deteriorating situation.

"We had all expected a peaceful protest. We certainly are disappointed to see our focus turned away from what we are trying to talk about: justice, trying to do better in our community of Kansas City and our state and our country. But I hope those who are still here in the park maintain that peaceful message," he said.

9:30 p.m. The protests have splintered into several groups, with many still near the Plaza, others in midtown and some downtown, near the Kansas City Police Department headquarters, being guarded by police.

Carlos Moreno
A procession of protesters moved from J.C. Nichols Fountain onto Ward Parkway at around 9:30 p.m.

Protesters began standing off with police at the corner of Main Street and Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard. They erupted into chants of "I can't breathe," the last words of Eric Garner captured on a cell phone video that have since become emblematic of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Police responded with pepper spray, and the crowd of protesters moved east toward Troost.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson issued a state of emergency "due to civil unrest" in Kansas City and St. Louis. This declaration gives him the ability to call in the National Guard.

9:15 p.m. A little after 8 p.m., police started setting off tear gas in an attempt to shoo protesters from the Plaza, but protesters said they’ll stay at the J.C. Nichols Fountain park.

Patrick Long of Kansas City carried jugs of milk of magnesia and wore ski goggles, exhorting protesters to stick with it: “C’mon, our lines are breaking! Get back there,” he urged.

At around the same time, Capt. David Jackson of the Kansas City Police Department told reporters on the Plaza that police are following social media and that they are "starting to get some information that these folks do not live in Kansas City, Missouri." He added that people had been increasing their level of violence — throwing rocks and blocking an ambulance — “these are the types of things that we’re not going to put up with.”

“We will be breaking up this unlawful assembly,” Jackson said.

Officials in other U.S. cities, notably Minneapolis, have said protesters are not from those communities, though KARE TV reported that Hennepin County jail records show the most arrests were of Minnesotans.

8 p.m. — Pepper spray was released into the crowd a little after 7 p.m. following an arrest that prompted the crowd to throw bottles.

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Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Protesters go face-to-face with police officers about 7:35 p.m.
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Carlos Moreno
A protester who stepped onto the street and taunted police officers is shown here being led away in handcuffs at around 7 p.m.

Uneasiness has also descended around a trio of armed protesters who say they've come to provide emergency medical assistance for anyone who might need it.

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Peggy Lowe
Three armed men came to the protest saying their purpose is to offer medical assistance. Brad Beachner, on the right, is from Topeka. His cohorts declined to give their names.

Brad Beachner, 26, of Topeka, Kansas, said he understood an armed presence was upsetting to some of the people around them.

"We're just trying to do what we can," he said. "Those people who will accept our help, we will help them."

6:30 p.m. — After 5 p.m., tensions escalated, with additional arrests and confrontations between protesters and police becoming more aggressive. Some protesters threw things at police officers and began cursing at them, and police officers fired tear gas.

Peggy Lowe
Ingrid Weaver, 19, of KC, says she’s holding the US flag upside down because it’s a sign of distress. She said it’s time for change in America.

Desmond Granger, a 31-year-old black man, gave a simple reason for his presence. "My life matters," he said. "How many people have to die for no reason? It doesn't have to be this way. Things can change. It's not against anyone, it's about lifting everyone up."

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Carlos Moreno
A trumpet player stepped into the street to play Taps and was arrested.

Mayor Quinton Lucas was there, and said, "The people I've been talking to are the ones impacted by police interactions. They live on the other side of Troost, where I live, where I grew up."

He added, "I didn't come for a show. I'm here to make change. I'm here to make change for the people in our communities who are most impacted by this. Those are the conversations we're going to keep having along the way. Anyone who wants to have that conversation, I welcome. If you're coming here just to start something? No."

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Carlos Moreno
A crowd protests at J.C. Nichols Fountain on May 30, 2020.

Lucas says that he is focused on improving lives and changing the relationship between police and majority-black communities.

5 p.m. Saturday — A protest planned for Saturday evening beginning at 5 p.m. got off to an early start by the J.C. Nichols Fountain on the Country Club Plaza, with at least two arrests reported before the official start time.

As of 5 p.m., interactions between activists and police officers seem more like a stand-off than a protest, with participants confronting officers from the Kansas City Police Department, who are yelling back at them in a reciprocal shouting match.

Saturday’s event was the second of three nights of protests organized by different grassroots groups.

On Friday, what was planned as an afternoon peaceful protest went until after midnight, with police arresting five and using pepper spray at one point to scatter people. Streets were closed around the Plaza and protesters threw rocks and bottles, breaking windows in nearby businesses and damaging a few police cruisers.

Keji Akinmoladun, a 2019 graduate of Northwest Missouri State University, organized Saturday’s event, starting it on Twitter and watching as it gained momentum across social media platforms. She did it, she said, to show that Kansas City is also home to such incidents, even though it doesn’t have a reputation for that.

Akinmoladun pointed to several instances of Kansas City Police killing black men, including 26-year-old Cameron Lamb, 47-year-old Donnie Sanders, and 24-year-old Ryan Stokes.

“We need to come together and fix this and talk about it and have a safe space and talk about our injustices,” she said.

Another event is planned for Sunday, called “Black Lives Matter. Enough is Enough.” The event, started on Facebook by three friends, had amassed 2,200 likely participants as of Saturday afternoon. More than 7,000 additional Facebook users indicated they were interested in attending. That Sunday protest is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain on the Plaza.

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