Justice for Peaceful Protestors in Prairie Village
Justice for Peaceful Protestors in Prairie Village
* Please note: the original petition mistakenly stated that Captain M was the PVPD representative who returned the call on Saturday. It was, in fact, Captain Washington, and the petition has been updated to correct that error. Captain M did not speak to the residents during the event described.
On Saturday, July 18th, 2020 at about 6:40 PM, a white man who appeared to be in his 70's with white facial hair driving a white Malibu with Kansas license plate number "832 ADF" pulled up in front of a private Prairie Village residence, where anti-racist signs were displayed in the yard. While the resident and children were attempting to unload groceries, the man got out of his car, and began belligerently screaming at the resident and children, including "You brought these people to our neighborhood," "F*** you," and a long tirade that included swearing at the resident and children. The resident called the police to say that they felt unsafe, and asked the police to come, as the man had driven up the street and parked within eyeshot of the home.
The belligerent man parked outside of Weltner Park, a public Prairie Village park, where a peaceful Black Lives Matter gathering was taking place. The man parked his car outside the gathering and began belligerently shouting obscenities at the protestors, getting out of his car and moving toward them threateningly, and, as relayed by protestors, telling them that he would come back and show them how serious he was, thus issuing a verbal threat. The protestors also relayed that the man told them to go back to their country, and other race-related verbal harassment. He got in and out of his car multiple times, pacing the street, and moving alternately toward and away from the protestors, all the while continuing his harassment. The man also approached other neighbors on the street who were displaying anti-racist signs. During this time, residents called police multiple times, asking them to intervene and come to the scene to ensure protection of the protestors, which included children. The police dispatcher stated that police were "aware" of the situation, but would not commit to sending a police officer to the scene. Meanwhile, the man continued his harassment until around 7:11 PM (over 30 minutes). The police never arrived on the scene. The man's actions were caught on tape by many protestors, and many of the protestors witnessed the man's harassment, threats, etc. first hand.
At 7:41 PM, Captain Washington of the Prairie Village police department called the resident of the above-mentioned home, rather than send an officer to the scene. The Captain stated that he had contacted the belligerent man and explained to him that his behavior was inappropriate. He stated that he did not expect further harassment from the man, but if it did take place, that he would consider appropriate action.
The resident asked why the belligerent man was not issued an appropriate citation (for harassment, public disturbance, and/or issuing threats). Captain Washington stated that the reason the police declined to arrive on scene was out of concerns surrounding COVID and due to the (insufficient) threat level posed by the belligerent man. He also stated that the Prairie Village police preferred "education" as a first step in scenarios like these. When the resident expressed the wish that the belligerent man be issued a citation so as to face consequences for his harassment, and so prevent recurrent behavior, Captain Washington stated a detective would be in touch in the future.
We call upon Captain Washington to issue an appropriate citation to the belligerent man as immediately as possible, and to conduct a full investigation, including seeking the video taken by protestors and conducting interviews of the many witnesses on the scene, which should have been done as the events were in progress. We call upon the Prairie Village Police Department, including Chief Tim Schwartzkopf, to commit to sending police officers physically to the scene more immediately when citizens report that they, and their children, feel unsafe due to racist threats in order to de-escalate. We call upon the Prairie Village Police Department to revise its policies as regard responsiveness so as to provide greater protections for peaceful protestors, and to issue citations whenever threats, harassment, and public disturbance are leveled against these protestors.
We also call upon the Prairie Village Police Department to examine implicit bias in the way it responds to calls for help. We ask them to examine and respond to whether the belligerent man's behavior would have been treated more seriously, or elicited a swifter response, had he been of any other race. We ask them to provide statistics for their arrest and citation rates by race, and to answer to any disproportionality therein. We call upon the Prairie Village Police Department to issue a public apology to the residents and protestors for failing to answer their calls for physical presence at the scene to protect those protestors and residents from a man who was actively harassing and threatening them.