Several people, including a Kansas City Star photographer, were arrested Tuesday night as about 100 protesters marched through the Country Club Plaza and to Westport.
Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté tweeted that four had been detained.
The confrontation began after more than 100 protesters who had gathered at Prospect Avenue began marching in Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard toward the Country Club Plaza. At the Plaza they met police barricades, said Rakeem Golden, a UMKC student helping to lead the march with a bullhorn.
Police blocked many intersections and attempted to keep the marchers out of the street. Officers on horseback and walking the streets, some with clubs and cameras, escorted the marchers as they made their way to Westport and back down to the Plaza.
“I believe in peaceful protest,” Golden said.
It was one of several protests Tuesday as area residents vented their anger and outrage Tuesday at a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white Ferguson, Mo., police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.
The marchers first attended a free-flowing discussion session at St. Andrew United Methodist Church sponsored by One Struggle KC, a human rights advocacy group begun about a month ago.
“A lot of us are frustrated, a lot of us are hurt and a lot of us are dismayed,” said co-founder Diane Burkholder.
Justin Strickland of Kansas City said he was not surprised by the announcement that the grand jury did not indict Darren Wilson.
“It wasn’t news,” he said. “It was something that I knew was coming.”
Many spoke of a feeling of powerlessness. Several said police need to be held accountable and expressed frustration at a power system they feel is stacked against people of color.
Auset Noir of Kansas City said the timing of the grand jury decision, just a few days before the Black Friday kickoff for holiday spending, was an opportunity to bring pressure on an oppressive corporate America.
“If you really want to make a change you’ll stand with us and not drop a dollar,” she said to applause. “I challenge you. This holiday season let’s return to what holidays are really about.”
After the discussion, which lasted more than an hour and half, most of the participants then joined a rally a few blocks away at Prospect Avenue and Cleaver Boulevard. Many passing cars honked approval of their banners and signs.
Earlier in the day, a multiracial crowd of 60 protesters led a short and mostly silent afternoon march from the Fletcher Daniels State Office Building to Ilus Davis Park. Once there, a number of speakers called for an end of racial profiling and police reform as well as political and economic equality.
“There was no justice in the decision by the grand jury,” said Anita L. Russell, president of the NAACP Kansas City branch. “We want justice for all of the Michael Browns in Kansas City and all over this nation.
“We want our young people, brown and African-American males especially, to know they can walk in peace throughout their community without the fear of being cut down like a dog and lie dead in the street,” said Russell, who addressed the crowd through a bullhorn.
Many also called for the end of civic unrest that ripped through Ferguson after authorities announced that Wilson would not face criminal charges for shooting Michael Brown after a confrontation. The decision triggered protests and looting, and police responded with armored vehicles and tear gas.
“This tragedy has exposed the persistent state of emergency that grips not only Ferguson, but our nation as a whole,” said Gwen Grant, president of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City. “We have (a) state of emergency tied to the unjust killings of black people and the dismal economic conditions of urban communities across America, where hope is often replaced by fear and where, for many, the American Dream has become a figment of yesteryear.”
At Friendship Baptist Church, the Rev. Wallace S. Hartsfield II asked congregants for a 45-second moment of silence in honor of Michael Brown.
“Then think of that 270 times to understand what it was like and how long the body of Michael Brown stayed in the street,” Hartsfield said.
Later in the program, Gracie Fleming, president of the Mayor’s Youth Commission, said there must be an open and honest dialogue about the issues surrounding race, specifically among youth.
“I don’t think our generation is the generation of hate that says we hate those people but the generation of staying silent and ignoring the problem,” said Fleming, a senior at St. Teresa’s Academy. “Our generation doesn’t talk about race because it makes us uncomfortable, and that has to change.”