KCPD defends using pepper spray on protest crowd

Posted at 4:55 AM, Mar 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-14 11:10:41-04

Kansas City police are facing some criticism following a decision to use pepper spray on protesters outside a Donald Trump rally on Saturday.

Police Chief Darryl Forte responded to criticism in a blog entry posted on Sunday.

According to Forte, around 500 protesters showed up outside the Midland Theatre before Trump’s rally. Officers responded to a bomb threat at the theatre at one point, and at times, protesters surrounded police.

Chief Forte also said a police horse was assaulted by protesters, some of whom were wearing gas masks.

Extra officers had to be called in to handle the crowds, according to Forte.

After several warnings to stay off the streets, Forte said officers had to resort to using pepper spray to control the crowds.



Guy Neiderhauser and Mikayla Dreyer were two of the many protesters who rallied outside the Midland Theatre.



Neiderhauser said an anti-Trump sign Dreyer made before the event helped shield them from the pepper spray.

“I wasn't doing anything wrong, so I'm frustrated at how it all went down,” he explained.

Dreyer said many of the protesters were unified and excited before some of the chaos began. She said some of the group members wanted to push the boundaries at one point.

“A group of protesters came around and asked us to link arms to take to the street," said Dreyer.

Minutes later, police pepper sprayed protesters to push them back.

Neiderhauser said he and his friends were standing on the sidewalk, per police orders, and never directly engaged with officers.

However, despite them following the rules, they were pepper sprayed.

“To wipe us all out with pepper spray seemed excessive," said Neiderhauser.

Police expected a big crowd due to the large amount of support and dissent Donald Trump has received while running for president. 

Rick Bond traveled with his wife and a friend to see Trump, however, they were forced to turn back after protests turned chaotic.

“It got to the point where protesters were pushing the police back," Bond said.

Dowd said protesters were fighting with police, and officers did what they had to do to control the crowd.

“The protesters were screaming. They were cursing at police and at people standing in line," Dowd said. “I just thought it was a very threatening environment for the police to be in and I thought they did a great job."

In total, four people were arrested during the protests. However, Forte said no injuries or damage were reported.




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