The brutal death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer has the country in chaos. Here in Kansas City at the Country Club Plaza people are protesting and demanding justice. However, some protesters have broken windows and have done other damages to the area businesses. This week KCPD Chief Smith and Mayor Lucas (top left) joined peaceful protesters in kneeling in a moment of silence for George Floyd and to take a stand against police brutality to African-Americans.



BY JOE ARCE
IN-DEPTH REPORT


Last week’s death of George Floyd (46) who was restrained by Minneapolis police officers after being pinned down by police officer Derek Chauvin (44) has become a wake up call for the Black Lives Matter campaign in Minneapolis, Minnesota and around the country. Floyd’s family and the community members are demanding answers and demanding justice for the loss of Floyd’s life. The police officer Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges that carry a combined maximum 35-year sentence. Three other police officers have been fired from the Minneapolis police department.


Over the last several days there have been violence and destruction of property in the city. Minneapolis, Minnesota demonstrators are showing their anger to law enforcement and to city and state officials by setting buildings ablaze, including a police precinct, plus looting, setting police cars on fire and area businesses having their windows broken out or burning a business down to the ground. Many of the protesters say they have had enough of black people and other people of color being killed by police officers throughout the country.


Kansas City resident Victor Sanchez was worry for his sister, “I spoke with my sister in Minneapolis for a while. Obviously worried about her and her family, but she’s doing ok. I was honestly a little more worried about my nieces and all the stress of the current situations because of the riots and Covid-19.

I just truly hope all this leads to some much needed changes in this country. As messed up as our political, education, healthcare, and judicial systems are, it’s amazing there isn’t 100x the amount of rioting going on. People are tired. Tired of inequalities, tired of injustices, and tired of being ignored. And whatever it’s worth, this won’t change until there is some sort of balance, but we seem so damn far from that at the moment.”


Over the last several days, demonstrations have erupted in many cities across the country, including Kansas City. This past weekend, thousands of protesters came out at the Country Club Plaza. While many of the demonstrators protested peacefully others did not, causing Kansas City police officers on Sunday evening to spray tear gas at the protesters after they refused to leave the Plaza area around 8:30 p.m. during the cities curfew.


In a press briefing Sunday night during the protest KC Mayor Quinton Lucas said, “Everything was going well. It was a peaceful demonstration and protesters were well behaved.” But later that evening things got out of control with many more demonstrators joining the protest and more damages being done to the Plaza area businesses that also included the burning of two vehicles and many buildings being tagged with graffiti. Roughly 85 demonstrators were arrested, 2 police officers were taken to area hospitals.


Helen Cortissoz said, “I believe in peaceful protest, not in destroying businesses that have nothing to do with a loss of life. Don’t destroy someone else’s lively hood, because you are angry. Those responsible for the looting and the destruction of property should be held accountable. We need to protest calmly and show that we are above this. The loss of life in Minnesota happens in black neighborhoods and the Mexican neighborhoods, a lot, and if we want to do something to change this, it has to start at the top. The White House is at the top, in one of Trump’s speeches he encouraged violence, that is not how a leader should react. Violence is not the answer. More lives don’t need to be lost, don’t let others who show ignorance by looting and destruction of property take away what the focus of the protest stands for. I stand against violence.”


On Monday morning on Fox 4 newscast, KC Mayor Quinton Lucas said some things went right during the Sunday evening protest. According to Lucas, “Around 8:30 to 9 o’clock we had some people who wanted to cause some trouble. Fortunately there were fewer people than the night before. We saw less looting, we saw less vandalism and I think we saw a safer environment.”


Mayor Lucas over the past several days has said he’s open and willing to sit down with citizens of Kansas City and have meaningful dialogue in improving relations with police department and residents of the city. Bring together a coalition of city and state officials and police departments and community to the table for much need discussion on improving race relations in KCMO.


A Kansas City resident, who ask not to be identified told Hispanic News she had seen so much negative reporting of the police officers and protesters around the country that she had to go and see for herself how people were conducting themselves during the Plaza demonstration. She had no agenda, no signs. She was not supporting nor opposing the protesters, she just wanted to get some video of the demonstrators. What she documented on her cell phone was the crowd taking a knee and then she saw a police officer taking a knee. She told Hispanic News, “The police officers were not wearing riot gear and it was so peaceful. A lot of interaction between the protesters and the police and I wanted to video and see this myself. Then the crowd started chanting take a knee and crowd started clapping and shouting with excitement. I looked over to my left and saw KCPD… one by one police officers taking off their gas mask and taking a knee with the protesters. It was amazing. She added there were more police officers that looked like they would take a knee. “I saw a female officer and you could tell she wanted to but obviously she was scared to take a knee but she stepped back and took her gas mask off. I feel this is what not being shown on the news and not being reported. I was so glad to see that because I feel I understand what the protesters are coming from and I’m a very compassionate person and seeing the officers and the emotions in their eyes too and obviously not all cops are bad and not all people of color are bad either.”


Jason Smith Mendez told Hispanic News, he’s very frustrated how people of color are being treated in this country and the system with law enforcement, he spoke very bluntly, “All of you complaining about rioting and all you complaining about looting. How do you have order without justice? Open your eyes and realize this isn’t about bringing 1 bad cop to the table. It’s not about stopping the looting or rioting with the National Guard or more Police. Do you really think that will end this? Even if force gets it to stop or calm down, do you not know it will happen again? Do you think it will be the same next time if it does? Could it be Worse?


I’ve said this multiple times throughout my life, policing as we know it needs to change. This is what will calm the American people you call thugs and animals. If those in charge would step back and look at the organization that has been created and ask themselves, “Is this the best we can do? How can they honestly answer Yes? Would you agree with a community board to review police misconduct? Made up with members of the community?” said Mendez Smith.


Crispin Rea of Kansas City wrote on his Facebook page, “It is sad seeing American cities burn. A lot of good people protested today. A lot of good officers are on the plaza tonight. No one wants this. Blame the rioting on who you want, you’ve got plenty of options based on what news you believe. But understand that this would not be happening if Ahmed Aubrey had not been hunted down and executed by a lynch mob. This would not be happening if the lady in NYC had just put her dog on a leash instead of weaponizing the police against Christian Cooper. This would not be happening if George Floyd’s life had been protected instead of taken. Be upset about the rioting. But be pissed off about what has lead us here. Black. Lives. Matter. And this will keep happening until we stop debating the merits of these words, stop creating counter slogans, and start having hard conversations.


And yet, more people seem bothered by these most recent acts of violence. More people are talking about how we move forward. Elected officials, KCPD, the Prosecutor’s Office are listening. I am cautiously optimistic that this time is different.”


KCK resident Rupert Aguirre said, “Chaos In America, We are in the midst of a dark chapter in America as huge crowds across the country, that began with peaceful demonstrations turned violent. On Memorial Day 2020, the life of George Floyd was senselessly taken by Minneapolis Police officers.


Now major cities including the District of Columbia have sent the National Guardsmen along with state and local police officers to control their cities and the rioters. Burning cars, looting and throwing objects at police are uncalled for. And certainly I believe that many protesters were from out of the cities, but still others were from those same communities that they live. Lord help us through these trying times.”