KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hundreds of protesters gathered Friday afternoon at the J.C. Nichols Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri, joining thousands of others across the nation in protest of the murder of George Floyd.
The demonstration has remained peaceful, but KCPD called additional officers to the scene shortly after 5:30 p.m. as protesters began to block traffic in the area.
KCPD spokesman Capt. David Jackson confirmed Friday evening that the "passionate" protest has remained nonviolent and there had been no arrests as of 8 p.m.
A man spotted carrying a rifle escalated tensions in the east Plaza area.
KCPD officers had donned riot gear by 8:30 p.m. as the sunset with hundreds of protesters still in the Plaza area.
KC Police in helmets and face shields are now face to face with protestors as we are into the fifth hour. @41actionnews— Dan Cohen (@DanCohenTV) May 30, 2020
Jackson said there may be graffiti in the area of Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard and Wyandotte Street.
Police were seen escorting away a man seen arguing with other protesters. He was not cuffed and was not placed under arrest.
This is the first person we have seen police escort away from the fountain area. He’s not in handcuffs, looks like police are walking him away from JC Nichols Parkway. @41actionnews pic.twitter.com/lR26HNUaqa— Ariel Rothfield KSHB (@arothfield) May 30, 2020
KCPD CPD Chief of Police Rick Smith planned to stop by the Plaza, where roughly 75 of his department's officers are working to ensure the safety of roughly 300 protesters.
Protesters gathered around 3 p.m. at the fountain, which is located just east of the Country Club Plaza, chanting “No justice, no peace.”
KANSAS CITY, MO - Corner of Cleaver and Nichols, a “Justice for George Floyd” protest begins. Chants of “no justice, no peace.” pic.twitter.com/YfCJLK83z0— Dan Cohen (@DanCohenTV) May 29, 2020
Protesters began chanting "I can't breathe," a reference to pleas caught on video as Eric Garner died at the hands of a New York City police officer in 2014 and Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis police officer earlier this week, as more people arrived along Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard.
Over time, the protest expanded to both sides of the street.
Through the first hour, the protest in Kansas City had remained peaceful, but protests across the country this week have been marked by violence, including a protester who was run over in Denver and seven reported shootings at a protest in Louisville.
Many protesters expressed fear for themselves or friends.
Shortly before 5:30 p.m., protesters moved from the J.C. Nichols Fountain and moved the march to the streets of the Plaza.
That's when KCPD called in extra officers as protesters began to block streets on the east side of the Plaza. Protest organizers helped clean the streets, while the additional officers helped with traffic control.
Traffic is now blocked near 47th Street and Emanuel Cleaver as people sit and stand in the middle of the road. Police asking people to stand up and get on the sidewalk. @41actionnews pic.twitter.com/aWmhQGCBtZ— Ariel Rothfield KSHB (@arothfield) May 29, 2020
Protesters in Minneapolis even set a police station on fire Thursday night, the third night of intense protests.
Floyd died in police custody after officers responded to call at a grocery store about a possible counterfeit bill. Bystander video captured Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin driving his knee into the back of Floyd's neck as he laid face down on the asphalt with his hands cuffed behind his back, blood coming from his nose and amid pleas for help because he couldn't breathe.
Chauvin was charged Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter in Hennepin County, Minnesota.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr's office is also reviewing the case for possible federal charges related to civil rights laws.
Chauvin and the three other officers who assisted at the scene of Floyd's arrest have been fired.
The families of Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor conducted a joint virtual press conference Friday, calling for more accountability in the criminal justice system for crimes committed by law enforcement officers.
Arbery is the Georgia jogger who was gunned down Feb. 23 by a father and son, while Taylor, a former EMT, was shot and killed by plainclothes policemen serving a no-knock warrant in the middle of the night.