About 100 protesters rallied Wednesday outside U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt's office in downtown Kansas City to protest President Donald Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S. border.
The protesters wanted Blunt to speak out against the policy. “All it takes is one phone call,” said Wendy Baird, the event’s organizer.
Later Wednesday, Trump signed an executive order to stop the separation of families by indefinitely detaining parents and children together.
Blunt, a Republican, said Tuesday that he supported a bill proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that called for doubling the number of federal immigration judges, opening more shelters and mandating that families be kept together.
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The Kansas City rally was organized through a Facebook post by Baird. “I’ve never done anything like this before …” the event’s description says.
“I’m a 30-something, stay-at-home mom and I had to do something,” Baird said Wednesday as her young daughter clung to her back.
She made the post over the weekend, incensed by news stories about more than 2,000 immigrant children who have been separated from their families and held in cages. She was expecting a few friends — and maybe friends of friends — to respond, she said.
Beyond the initial people her post reached, it was shared by advocacy groups such as Democratic Party organizers and the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equality. At that point, the event took flight.
Within two days there were 400 responses.
The group was about 60 percent women, and many had young children in tow. One woman drove in Wednesday morning from Maryville, Mo.
Protesters carried hastily made signs excoriating Trump and Blunt or calling for action. Protesters chanted “This is what democracy looks like!” “Unite families!” and “When children are under attack, what do we do? Stand up! Fight back!”
Many protesters wore T-shirts from previous rallies such as March For Our Lives or the Women's March.
Matt Knopf, 32, looked in on the protests from the back of his crowd with his 2-year-old daughter, Sofia, next to him.
"Becoming a parent completely changes your perspective," he said. "I know everyone says that, but it's true."
Blunt is a longtime, successful politician, so he understandably wants to avoid controversy, Knopf said, but his constituents have to hold him accountable.
“He’s being a politician,” Knopf said. “But this is being a citizen.”
Knopf said he hears about many more protests now than he used to. He, and several others, said they make a point of going to rallies or events more often than they would have in previous years.
Wednesday's protest will not be the only one in the Kansas City area. Advocacy groups such as the KS/MO DREAM Alliance, Advocates for Immigrant Rights and Reconciliation and Cosecha KC have events planned for later in the week.
Would a private citizen like Baird have taken it upon herself to organize a protest like Wednesday's one 10 years ago?
“I don’t know,” she said. “That’s a good question. We’re in a different world now.”