Trump visit to Kansas City draws a crowd of vocal protesters
Donald Trump’s presence brought Mike Malotte out Tuesday to downtown Kansas City to do something he hadn’t done before.
Protest against the president of the United States.
“I’m concerned about the state of our democracy at this point,” said Malotte, 65, of Olathe. “We have a guy who really hates America. He hates everything that America stands for.”
As the president prepared to speak to 4,000 veterans at the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, roughly 150 protesters rallied at 10th Street and Broadway.
Later in the day, after Trump had left Kansas City, perhaps twice that many gathered at a second rally at 12th and Central streets.
Some at the morning rally shouted expletives; some ridiculed Trump for his relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Kansas City police officers kept the protesters out of the street, so instead, the crowd massed on the four corners.
They held signs saying “Liar,” “Bogus POTUS,” “Lock him up” and “Trump is a traitor.” Several red flags with a sickle symbol could also be seen in the crowd, along with one protester wearing a red Antifa shirt.
Johnda Boyce, 48, held a sign saying, “This is not normal! RESIST!”
“I’m queer, I believe in immigrant rights, I’m a woman,” she said. “I think that our democracy is under threat. Not just women, not just immigrants. I think our whole system is crumbling.”
Claudine Sanders, 48, brought her 14-year-old daughter, Nevaeh, to the rally, and the two protested together.
“(Trump) wasn’t going to come to my city without me being present,” said Sanders of Wyandotte County. “I really, honestly don’t believe he’s a good person.”
“I don’t like him at all,” Nevaeh said. “The way he talks about people and what he says about other people and the way he acts, it’s very immature.”
At some point among the jeers, cheers and expletives shouted about Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, two Trump supporters wearing “Make America Great Again” hats made their way through part of the crowd on a street corner.
Griffin Allen, an 18-year-old in a suit with a Trump/Pence pin, said the protest he happened upon was sad.
“This level of hatred that some people have towards him is beyond me,” said Allen, of Shawnee. “I don’t understand it.”
Around 4 p.m., hundreds of anti-Trump protesters rallied at 12th and Central as veterans staying at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown looked on from across the street, leaning on a railing in the shade.
“That’s why I went to war, so they can have their freedom of speech,” said Jeff Heise, an Army veteran of the Iraq war. “And if I don’t agree with it, I don’t agree with it, but it’s fine with me.”
At one point, Kansas City mayoral candidate Jason Kander took the stage for what he said was an impromptu speech.
“I’ve never given a long speech with a bullhorn before, and I’m not about to start now,” Kander began. He stood on elevated concrete steps to speak to the crowd with American flags, pride flags and protest signs around him, and a fountain behind him.
Kander — with sporadic breaks for cheers — said Trump prefers to take pictures with veterans rather than actually help them. He then criticized Trump for his decision in March to delegate certain operational military decisions to generals at the Pentagon, implying that the president lacks the courage to make tough decisions.
“He wants to be able to take credit when it goes well and blame people when it goes poorly,” Kander said.
Heise, who is from Cape Girardeau, was ultimately unimpressed by the event. He said he was intrigued by the spectacle but was expecting more people to show up. One of his friends joked that he saw bigger protests when they shut down the only laundromat in his town.
“Trump left hours ago,” he said. “Now they’re just protesting at a bunch of old veterans. They’re just wasting their breath, in my opinion.”