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Overland Park Arrests Spark Protest In Westport Joined By Wall Of Moms Kansas City

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Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR
Protest organizer Oluwatoyin Akinmoladun leads the crowd in a chant Saturday evening in front of Kelly’s Westport Inn. The protesters swelled to about 200 and eventually moved to the intersection of Westport Road and Pennsylvania Avenue to continue their protest late into the evening without police intervention.

Protesters formed a circle around the intersection where Akinmoladun and others continued making speeches and leading chants directed at police, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith, politicians and others.

Arrests Friday in Overland Park during a social injustice demonstration loomed large over a gathering staged Saturday night in Westport protesting social injustice and police brutality.

Kansas City attorney Stacy Shaw, who was one of those arrested in Overland Park, took the megaphone at 10:45 Saturday night in Westport and rallied the crowd, which had been chanting and listening to speeches that started in front of Kelly’s Westport Inn starting at 7 p.m.

“I need you to keep fighting. You need to continue to resist oppression,” she told the crowd assembled around her.

“But they don’t see the love,” she added. “They don’t see that you will do the things for love that you could never do out of fear, that you could never do out of hate.”

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Carlos Moreno
Protesters assemble across the intersection of Westport Road and Pennsylvania Avenue to block traffic Saturday evening. Security officers moved barricades across the intersections of Broadway Boulevard and Mill Road to keep traffic from reaching the protesters.

The protest, organized by Oluwatoyin Akinmoladun, began as a small gathering on the sidewalk in front of Kelly’s but spilled into the intersection of Westport Road and Pennsylvania Avenue around 8:50. Protesters blocked the streets and forced several cars to turn around.

Security officers then moved barricades at Mill Street and Broadway Blvd. to divert any traffic from approaching the protestors. Pennsylvania Avenue had already been blocked off earlier to allow for pedestrian traffic.

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Carlos Moreno
Phillip Irwin, 69, gazes at the night sky during a quiet moment. Irwin described himself as an “old geezer” and said he’s been active in other protests. “I’m alive in this world and it matters,” he said. “If there’s injustice for anybody, there’s injustice for everybody.”

Protesters formed a circle around the intersection where Akinmoladun and others continued making speeches and leading chants directed at police, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith, politicians and others.

Akinmoladun said she organized the protest because she felt some of the momentum from the earlier social injustice protests had been waning. But she said the arrests in Overland Park sparked her to hold this event.

“I feel like, regardless, whatever we do is still never going to be enough and I feel like we can do more with protests and candlelights and just people coming together,” she said. “It’s died down a lot. We still need to get out the message that Black lives matter.”

A new twist to the protests was the addition of the Wall of Moms Kansas City. Several women and some men -- most of them wearing yellow T-shirts -- inspired by the Portland, Oregon, Wall of Moms standing up to the influx of federal agents in that city, huddled near the protesters ready to run interference for them.

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Carlos Moreno
A member of the Wall of Moms Kansas City stands at the fringes of Saturday’s protest in Westport. Saturday was the group’s first event since forming only four days earlier.

A member of the Kansas City Wall of Moms who asked not to be identified said this was the group’s first official protest in the city. The group, she said, was formed only four days earlier.

About 30 Moms gathered Saturday. Members said the group, despite being only a few days old, had already registered 1,500 members mostly by using social media.

One of the group’s organizers said they came out with the same goal as the moms in Oregon: to shield protesters against police brutality. “If we have to form a line, we’ll take leadership if they ask us to,” she said.

As it turned out, the moms weren’t needed to form a human barrier on Saturday.

No police engaged them. After more than four hours of peaceful protesting, the group, which peaked at around 200, had dwindled to around 90 by 11 p.m. As they debated whether to take to the streets, Stacy Shaw advised them that police were taking a zero-tolerance approach to obstructing traffic and told the protesters to use their best judgement.

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Carlos Moreno
Kansas City lawyer Stacy Shaw reminds the crowd late Saturday night that “this is a movement born out of love.” She added, “We will continue resisting by all legal means necessary.”

The remaining protesters assembled for a short march down Mill Street and returned up Pennsylvania Avenue for a final chant. Akinmoladun told them they would continue the protest at the Jackson County Courthouse on Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Corrected: July 26, 2020 at 1:13 PM CDT
A caption under the photo of a man in a wheelchair misidentified him. He is Phillip Irwin.
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