KCPD Pepper Sprays Protesters at Trump Rally

Protestors outside of Donald Trump’s rally were doused with pepper spray twice by KCMO police officers.

Trump’s rally took place last Saturday evening in downtown Kansas City at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland.

Salam Alshimaily, a fourth year UMKC student, hoped to attend the rally with his brother, Sami Alshimaily, and other members of their family.

“My brother mentioned it to me earlier that day, and I said, ‘Why not?’ I wanted to hear Trump speak,” said Alshimaily. “I couldn’t believe a guy like that actually exists, so the fact that he was coming to Kansas City almost blew my mind.”

 

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All photos by Chris Corall

 

Alshimaily’s brother was invited to the event by members of the Progressive Youth Organization. Unable to enter the crowded theatre, Alshimaily instead joined the protesters outside.

Numerous people gathered at the Midland that evening to protest Trump’s presence and the rally.
“[20 minutes before the rally] People were just chanting and showing their signs. People were driving down the street honking, supporting, all that good stuff,” said Alshimaily.

Protesters began trying to move forward into the street, closer to the theatre. According to Alshimaily, the protesters remained peaceful. They chanted and avoided physical contact with each other and the officers. Some protesters returned to the sidewalk, and some screamed at the police.

“Out of nowhere, they just started spraying everybody,” Alshimaily said. “They had these fire extinguisher-sized bottles of pepper spray. That first one, I just got kind of misted in the face a little bit, just on the side of my face. It wasn’t terrible, but it burned a little bit.”

Alshimaily left the protest seeking help for his cousin, who was more seriously injured. After he washed the spray off, they returned to the protest.

Tensions rose after the first round of pepper spray.The protest group outside of the Midland began to grow crowded as Trump security removed individuals from the rally inside.

“The second round just happened out of nowhere,” said Alshimaily. “People just gathered up and started linking arms. They were linked up and had their backs turned to them, walking backwards into the street. Some had their faces covered, because they knew they were going to get sprayed this round.”

As officers on horseback entered the blockade, Alshimaily’s cousin ran into the street. His cousin believed the officers’ use of animals to contain the protesters was wrong.

Alshimaily tried to calm his cousin and remove her from the protest after he saw police officers waving bottles of pepper spray.

“As soon as I grabbed her, one of the cops tapped my shoulder, like kind of bumped me and shoved me away off onto the sidewalk,” Alshimaily said. “As soon as I turn around and make eye contact with this a——, he sprays the both of us. Just point blank, in my face.”

The officer in question also sprayed Alshimaily’s cousin, according to Alshimaily. The immediate effects of the pepper spray took an hour to clear up. Alshimaily’s eyes remained puffy, swollen and bloodshot throughout the night.

“He was about a foot away from me. He reached his whole arm out into our faces,” Alshimaily said. “It was like he had one reason, just to hit the both of us right in our faces. God, it [seemed] intentional. He was really excited.”

 

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According to KCMO Police Chief Darryl Forté, more officers arrived after a police horse was assaulted and people donned personal protective equipment such as gas masks.

For three minutes police warned protesters that they would use pepper spray if they didn’t leave the street, Forté wrote on his official blog.

“They blocked traffic and compromised safety,” Forté wrote. “Some cars caught in the back-up were surrounded. When the crowd refused to obey police commands, officers had to deploy pepper spray on two occasions throughout the evening.”

Forté praised his officers for their restraint, adding that the police were there to ensure citizens’ right to peaceably assemble and express their views.

Alshimaily said pepper spray was unnecessary and suggested riot shields would have been a better option.
“The way they just hurt people to control them, I didn’t understand the reason for it, honestly,” Alshimaily said. “Especially that amount of [pepper spray] at the same time. It was a terrible idea.”

Alshimaily felt the police facing only the protesters’ side of the street added to the tension. The protesters did what was necessary to be heard, Alshimaily said.

According to The New York Times, Trump called on police to arrest protesters, telling his supporters the protesters were the people his campaign fights against.

“It’s all a little group that wants free lunch,” Trump said.

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