By Kim Mueller
Before President Trump’s plane even touched down in Kansas City, Tim Kelly of Raytown sat waiting at 8 a.m. for the streetcar to take him from River Market to the protests downtown.
“I called in sick from work to do this,” Kelly explained as he held his cardboard sign saying, “Veterans Resist this Liar.”
Kelly’s message was echoed at the two rallies held downtown to protest President Trump during his visit to Kansas City.
Several thousand VFW and auxiliary members convened at Municipal Auditorium to hear the president’s 50-minute speech before he crossed the street to attend Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s fundraiser at the Downtown Marriott.
Benita Turner traveled from New York State for the VFW’s 119th convention, but left minutes before Trump’s speech.
“I wasn’t interested in what he had to say,” Turner explained while standing outside the police barricades restricting pedestrian and street traffic.
“I also think it was disrespectful for him to spend so little time with the VFW and to spend all his time raising money.”
During the early afternoon, Trump supporters bought and sold merchandise outside the Baltimore Street barricades while Secret Service and Kansas City Police Department officers patrolled the area.
Several blocks away, about 150 Trump protestors gathered at the 10th Street and Broadway barricades.
They carried signs saying, “Impeach the Filthy Traitor,” “Nazi POTUS,” and “Tell the Truth.” People chanted “Lock him up” and “He’s not my president.”
When the barricades came down, Trump supporters disappeared from downtown and anti-Trump merchandisers popped up at Barney Allis Plaza.
About 100 protestors also gathered at the Barney Allis Plaza fountain for the day’s second rally organized by the Heartland Alliance for Progress. Protestors encouraged drivers to honk their support.
And several VFW members wearing uniforms crossed the street from their Marriott hotel rooms to talk to the crowd.
The only disruption occurred during the early afternoon rally when two Trump supporters wearing “Make America Great Again” hats walked into the anti-Trump crowd.
Protestors, who had obeyed police directives to remain on the sidewalks, quickly left the street corners and converged into the street, shouting obscenities at the men.
Police repeatedly blew their whistles. Mounted officers promptly appeared. Horses and officers corralled the crowds back onto the sidewalks.
Then the protestors’ chants changed.
“When First Amendments are under attack, what do we do?” a leader shouted over the megaphone. “Stand up, Fight back,” the crowd responded.
The roar continued while Steve quietly held his homemade sign with two messages written on plain poster board: “VETS AGAINST TRUMP” on the front and “THIS VET WILL KNEEL” on the back.
Like many protestors, Steve didn’t want to give his name. But after two tours in Bosnia, the Army veteran said he wanted his message heard.
“I am a vet and I want him to know I am not with him,” Steve said. “I am with all those men who have their rights taken away.”
“I just don’t like that Trump is the master spin doctor. He demonized those football players because they are of color.”
Don’t miss any downtown news, sign up for our weekly CityScene KC email review here.