KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Protesters camping outside City Hall in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, warned they won’t be leaving anytime soon — They plan to occupy the area until their demands are met, or they’re kicked out.
Above all, they want KCPD Police Chief Rick Smith out of a job. It’s one the messages that was projected onto City Hall Sunday night.
It’s been almost a decade since Kansas City has experienced an occupation of this kind.
“We are not to be ignored any longer,” Stacy Shaw, attorney & protest organizer, said during a press briefing. “We are not going to be swept aside, taken as a joke. Given duplicitous promises.”
More than a score of tents were up in the south lawn of City Hall, with the statue of Abraham Lincoln covered in reasons why the protesters want police reform.
“Every time they have a business meeting, they’re going to be reminded of our rightful outrage,” Shaw said.
Protesters shifted their approach from marching on Friday to the creation of “The People’s City” outside City Hall on Sunday because of a now-viral cell phone video showing a KCPD officer handcuffing a pregnant woman last week near 35th and Prospect. The woman was accused of hindering an arrest.
“And just see a mother and just see a woman who is about to give birth–to see her treated like an animal,” Shaw said.
Police maintain she was given multiple warnings to leave – but refused.
Though a KCPD representative wasn’t available to speak on camera on Sunday– a spokesman told 41 Action News he does not believe there have been any updates regarding the arrest.
The day the video was released, the department issued the following statement regarding the officer’s actions:
He advised and I think the video shows the way it was on his fight that he was taking care and that he understood this he took as much care as he could.
Cpt. David Jackson, KCPD spokesperson
The woman in the video — who for safety reasons is being identified by only her first name, Deja — joined demonstrators on Sunday who were calling for Smith’s resignation and the termination of the officer.
Deja did not directly address the group.
“She [Deja’s daughter] hasn’t even been born yet, and she’s already a victim of police brutality,” Shaw said.
This instance of alleged brutality has become a flashpoint in KCMO.
“We’re not going to let it die out until we get some serious, serious change,” Steveland Young, a protester, said.
The police department has repeatedly said the chief has no plans to step down.
Shaw said the occupation will remain peaceful and there won’t be any scenes like what happened in Seattle or Portland earlier this year.