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Protesters rally in KC over police brutality

Hundreds gathered at the J.C. Nichols fountain Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 for a rally against police brutality following the violence in Ferguson, Mo., where unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer. Several dozen people lined up on 47th Street, held up their hands and shouted in call and response "Hands up!" "Don't shoot!"
Hundreds gathered at the J.C. Nichols fountain Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 for a rally against police brutality following the violence in Ferguson, Mo., where unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer. Several dozen people lined up on 47th Street, held up their hands and shouted in call and response "Hands up!" "Don't shoot!" The Kansas City Star

Several hundred people, black, white and Hispanic, gathered near the Country Club Plaza on Thursday night in a peaceful rally against police brutality.

They observed 30 seconds of silence for Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old black man who was shot and killed Saturday by police in Ferguson, Mo.

Kansas City police were present but not conspicuous. Five officers on horseback stayed in the background at the rally in Mill Creek Park.

The theme of the rally emphasized peace and love but also a determination to oppose injustice.

“We are not just mourning the death of Mike Brown,” said organizer Amber Stewart. “His death is just one of the many fruits on the tree of injustice.”

A succession of speakers told stories of police brutality from New York to Los Angeles. People were encouraged to sign a petition to make the shooting of unarmed people in retreat by law enforcement officers a federal offense, and to require all police officers to wear body cameras.

Others argued against the militarization of police departments in general.

People in the crowd bore signs bearing the names of some who have been killed by law enforcement. One attendee was Narene Stokes of Kansas City, whose 24-year-old son, Ryan Stokes, was fatally shot by police in July 2013 near the Power & Light District. Police said he ignored orders to stop and show his hands.

It was one of many National Moment of Silence rallies held Thursday in cities across the country.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James earlier Thursday had posted a video on the City Hall website saying he was not afraid of violence erupting here. Still, he urged gatherers to remain peaceful.

“In short, people, keep it cool,” James said.

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