KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A vigil and rally in the memory of Michael Brown, a teenager shot dead by police in Ferguson, Mo., on Sunday, drew hundreds of peaceful demonstrators to Mill Creek Park to call for an end to unnecessary violence by police.
"Tonight we gather to address a national crisis that has rattled all of us," event organizer Amber Stewart said. "The horrific slaying of Michael Brown at the hands of police forces."
Fears that Thursday night’s event would turn from a rally to a protest proved unfounded. Kansas City police officers, some mounted on horseback and some on foot, watched the event from a respectful distance. There were no observable altercations.
Along Cleaver Boulevard, some demonstrators earned honks from motorists as they chanted, "Hands Up! Don't shoot!" They waved signs with anti-violence slogans.
The focus of several speakers in the roughly 90 minute program was the militarization of police forces, beefed up by weaponry know longer needed on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, and, some believe, misused by local police .
"The militarization of the police has led to numerous deaths and injuries," organizer Sarah Cole said. "And it is time that we stand up against these very policies that have dire consequences within our communities."