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Protesters near J.C. Nichols Fountain in KC denounce white nationalist rally in Virginia

About 60 people organized Saturday for a rally in Kansas City to protest violence the last two days at a white nationalists rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Protestors at J.C. Nichols Fountain in Mill Creek Park near the Country Club Plaza wanted to denounce hate, white supremacy and racist rhetoric they believe led to violence at the rally near the University of Virginia.

Earlier Saturday, a car plowed into a crowd of people protesting the rally, killing one person, and sending dozens more to the hospital.

A bystander captured video of the moment.

Later that afternoon a Virginia State Police helicopter crash killed the pilot and a passenger just outside Charlottesville.

According to published reports, the crash was linked to the rally although officials in Virginia did not elaborate on how.

Violence also broke out at the rally Friday.

The local protest was peaceful — minus one obscene gesture levied from a passerby in the direction of Mikayla Dreyer, a 26-year-old from Kansas City.

Dreyer was joined by three friends, two of whom identified as minorities. Dreyer, who is white, said recent events in Charlottesville cannot become the norm in Kansas City.

“I think it’s abhorrent and I don’t want to see it continue in my city,” she said. “As a white person I think it’s my job to stand up and say this is not what we’re going to be about in Kansas City.”

According to the Associated Press, the white nationalist group had gathered to protest plans to remove a statue of the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. They chanted Nazi slogans including “Sieg Heil,” a victory salute used originally by Nazis at political rallies.

Demonstrators carried Confederate flags, displayed swastikas and wore military gear and paraphernalia, according to published reports. Some of the protesters carried KKK signs.

Others arrived to counter-protest.

The Washington Post reported hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and KKK members were attempting to stage their largest rally in decades to “take America back.”

Chaos at the rally caused the state’s governor to declare a state of emergency.

Media reports and social media posts from Virginia motivated Dreyer and her friends to draw up signs denouncing hate and stand on the corner near the infamous Kansas City fountain.

The fountain was recently the subject of a Kansas City Star editorial by Steve Kraske denouncing Nichols’ seemingly racist past.

Asked her reaction to the recent footage, Dryer replied: “I”m a white girl, it doesn’t matter what I think,” then summoned Mexican-American friend Mariel Ferreiro, 25, of Lawrence.

Ferreiro challenged Dryer to speak up.

“It matters what you think,” Ferreiro said to Dreyer. “It’s your responsibility to have a reaction because unfortunately it’s the group that represents you. You don’t want to be represented by this group so your reaction should be anger at this unjust system.”

Dryer said Ferreiro and another friend, Ashanti Spears, a 23-year-old African-American woman from Lawrence, both told her they were not surprised about the hate-mongering in Virginia.

“They are not surprised by this, and too many of my white friends are,” Dreyer said. “That’s wrong. We need to be aware.”

Toriano Porter: 816-234-4779, @torianoporter

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