(MONET) — Hundreds of protesters have lined streets in Kansas City, Springfield, Columbia, and the St. Louis area this weekend chanting phrases like “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “No justice, no peace”. They have been calling attention to this week’s death of George Floyd, an African-American man in Minneapolis. A white police officer is accused of third-degree murder after pinning Floyd to the ground by pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for about eight minutes.
The casualty is stirring up the pain felt when 18-year-old Michael Brown, Jr. was shot to death in 2014 by a Ferguson police officer. Brown, an unarmed African-American man, was killed by Darren Wilson, who is white.
Brown’s death led to protests for days on the streets of Ferguson, looting, and vandalism – some of the same acts happening in Minneapolis, Atlanta, and elsewhere during protests. His death also sparked a movement driven to stop unarmed African-Americans from getting killed by law enforcement.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas tells KMBC-TV he wants this weekend’s protesters to work for change in the community between African-Americans and police.
“What we are not out here to do is act a fool, is to have generalized hooliganism, is to do something that will, I think, tarnish not just the life of George Floyd but also to tarnish, I think, what is a wonderful peaceful rally,” he says.
Lucas, who is African-American, spoke with passion about bringing people together – not driving them apart.
“We’re not here to just try to start something that is tangential to what the goal of us is – is to make sure that people can live equally, to make sure that people can walk around feeling safe, to make sure that every black mother in this city has the chance to say ‘I know my son’s going to come back and he’s not going to get shot by somebody on the street, he’s not going to get shot by the police, he’s not going to get messed by somebody in those different areas.’ That’s all I’m asking,” says Lucas. “And that’s all we want today.”
Taylar Johnson Coody spoke with heavy emotion.
“I’m tired of having to wake up and go to social media to see every, I’m sorry, of having to see another black person on the floor. I’m tired of people dying and I’m tired of having to come out here and protest for the people I love and care about,” she tells KMBC.
In Kansas City, some protesters have been arrested and police have used pepper spray on some individuals. On Twitter, the Kansas City Police Department confirmed officers are using tear gas to keep people off of streets.
In the St. Louis region yesterdays, protesters lined the streets in Clayton, University City, and in Ferguson. Some demonstrators blocked traffic on Interstate 70.
State Representative Rasheen Aldridge, D-St. Louis, spoke during today’s rally.
“This is our moment. Let’s make it right. This is our moment to show the world that we ain’t f***ing around no more,” he says. “Just because we’re mad don’t make us violent. Just because we’re pissed don’t make us terrorists.”
Before an Urban League donation drive today, Missouri Congressman Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, said there should be justice for George Floyd.
“If George Floyd would have been white, would he have died on the street like an animal begging for mercy while he struggled to breathe,” asks Clay. “The three officers who stood by and did absolutely nothing to save his life must be charged as accessories to murder.”
After Brown’s death, Clay helped to create a consent decree between the City of Ferguson and the U.S. Department of Justice to help change policing practices.
Here are scenes from Saturday, May 30, 2020 in southwest Missouri’s Springfield:
In response to the protests, Gov. Mike Parson has declared a state of emergency. He has signed an executive order giving the Missouri Adjutant General or his designee the power to activate National Guard soldiers if necessary. In a press release, Parson says the Missouri National Guard and the Missouri Highway Patrol stand ready to support local authorities.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of George Floyd. We are also saddened by the acts of violence that have transpired across our nation and state in response to this event. At this time, we are taking a proactive approach to protect Missouri and its people,” the governor says. “Citizens have the right to peacefully assemble and protest, and the State of Missouri is committed to protecting the lawful exercise of these rights.”
Parson says despite the many peaceful assemblies, other events have created conditions of distress and hazards to the safety, welfare, and property of residents and visitors that are beyond the capacities of local authorities.