A video taken amid protests at the Donald Trump rally Saturday shows Kansas City police using pepper spray on dozens of people in the crowd outside the event.
The incident apparently began about 7:30 p.m. when Kansas City police doing crowd control became concerned that people were forcing their way off the sidewalk and into the street. At least one person pushed a police horse.
Police used pepper spray on the crowd. One person posted video of the incident to Twitter, complaining that the spray hit many people who didn’t seem to be provoking police.
Police Chief Darryl Forté said he felt the officers acted appropriately because they were in danger of being surrounded by the advancing crowd that already had thrown objects.
“When you look at the video, it looks bad,” Forté said. “But the officers were in danger on both sides.”
The officers had radioed their commanders saying that protesters trading jeers with Trump supporters on the other side were, against police orders, moving into the street. Officers on foot were unable to move them back. Mounted police officers moved in on horses to try to drive a wedge into the crowd.
But it didn’t work. A photographer with The Star saw a woman slap a police horse in the face. When officers pointed her out for arrest, she disappeared into the crowd.
“Everybody was warned to move back,” Forté said. When the crowd didn’t, a police commander gave orders for the officers to “do what you need to do with the pepper spray.”
“They showed great restraint,” Forté said. “You get to the point where you take control or you let the mob take control.”
It was the second time police used pepper spray at the Saturday night protests, which drew hundreds of people to line both sides of Main Street in front of the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland, where Trump spoke at 6 p.m. The front-runner for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election had canceled a Friday night event in Chicago because of protests.
Forté announced the first use of pepper spray on Twitter, saying officers used it to stop two large crowds of people from fighting.
Police arrested four protesters in connection with other incidents.