Pepper Spray in Kansas City

From Kansas City, Missouri, Police Chief Darryl Forté regarding the Saturday March 12th, 2016, Trump protest outside the Midland theater:

An estimated 500 people gathered in downtown Kansas City last night at the Donald Trump rally. Of those, a small number showed up intent on antagonizing and breaking the law. A video has been circulating showing police using pepper spray against those people. The video is a small moment in time and does not depict what led up to the incident. This is the full story:

Police were dealing with a bomb threat reported inside the Midland Theater as the rally started. At about the same time, I heard officers on the radio saying they were starting to get surrounded by the people outside. The Trump protesters were on both sides of Main Street. They started encroaching onto the street. The opposing sides periodically tried to come together, and officers found themselves breaking up more and more disturbances. The officers called in our Mounted Patrol for back up to break the two groups apart and get them out of the street. In the course of that, a police horse was assaulted. More officers were called in to help maintain safety and order. Some of the people gathered outside began to put on personal protective equipment (gas masks). Several of them tried to rush the front doors of the theater, blocking Main Street in the process.
Police issued repeated commands to stay out of the street. They warned that pepper spray would be used if those gathered didn’t follow the commands. People had ample opportunity to back up or disperse. Police tried to get them out of the street for three minutes. Those three minutes were just when they were in the street itself. Tensions had been building before that on the sidewalk. They blocked traffic and compromised safety. 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.

It’s hard to fault KCPD, especially after viewing the various videos making the rounds; you mess with the bull, you get the horns.

What’s more interesting is the escalating arc of events; the last several election cycles had been less than electric, the mendacious mediocracy of both political party’s offerings acting as a soporific. A center right candidate would be elected, serve a term or two, to be followed by a center-left candidate. Lather, rinse and recycle – that’s Democracy, baby. Even if in actuality it resembles nothing so much as a power-sharing agreement between the Crips and the Bloods.

What’s notable is the overt aggressiveness of the H. Monastic right; you can’t help but feel the frisson of fascism Trump’s followers exude: Sucker punches, fistfights, everything but Joe Buttcrack discovering his wife’s been sleeping with the mailman. 1 . This has been building on a bombastic eight years of “Take America back” sloganeering. 2

The foreign press seems asea: WTF, America!?!?!? They were already confused by Obama’s reelection amid a growing –or at least voraciously loud— climate of right-wing hissy fits.

The national press, insatiably bloodthirsty as always, laps it all up unquestioningly. Perhaps only in hindsight will American journalists, intellectuals and politicians remember another period in the 30s when another people chose to believe another little man would eventually see reason.

The time to truly worry is when the media starts to ignore the violence, when brawls become just another high wire act within the Trump Circus. Because if you’ve failed to notice, Trump has brought together the dregs of American society, among them people who believe a handgun trumps all discussion. Eventually someone will go too far, eventually someone will bring out a weapon. 3

But you know what could be even worse?

If Trump should have the nomination or election “stolen” from him. Then there will be millions of frustrated armed idiots, many of whom we’ve had the pleasure of screening on teh TV at Trump rallies, previously enabled if not outright abetted in their violence by their idol –“Hey! I’ll pay their lawyer fees!”– stewing over what exactly they have to do to Take Their County Back.
Pepper Spray in Kansas City

Show 3 footnotes

  1. I swear, it’s as though the producers of The Jerry Springer show were hired to do Trump’s campaign.
  2. There of course was an implicit understanding of from whom we were supposed to liberate our country: everyone who wasn’t them. Oh, and the Kenyan usurper.
  3. on the other hand…this ain’t Australia, mate: It’s America. Of course someone’s going to get shot. Just a matter of time…

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