Hundreds of people with signs and megaphones are huddled in a park, surrounded by approximately a dozen men with army fatigues, bulletproof vests and guns. This is not Charlottesville or any of the other protests that made national headlines. No, this scene took place at the J.C. Nichols fountain in Kansas City during the No Place for Hate rally.
In light of current events and the national environment my stepchildren are living in, I decided to become active in rallies and other social/political events. To make sure my two oldest stepchildren understood what is going on – and to ensure they get involved sooner than I did – I decided to take them with me to the No Place for Hate rally. It was a learning experience for all three of us, but not in the way I expected.
From the No Place for Hate Facebook event page:
Join us in solidarity to say no to racism and hate in America. The events that took place in Charlottesville were organized by nazis and that needs to be addressed. the events that took place in Charlottesville were in protest to the removal of a confederate statue. we will be passing around petitions to remove the daughters of the confederacy memorial on 55th and Ward pkwy as well as renaming the JC Nichols fountain in addition to the actual event. We will also be marching to the memorial after a panel of speakers.
Essentially, this was an attempt to rename or remove monuments in Kansas City that glorify people who came from a place of hate. The overwhelming majority of participants consisted of those on the extreme left, e.g. Antifa, Democratic Socialists of America, etc.
However, a group of men (and a few women) showed up. You could hear the proverbial record stop as they marched around the protest. These men and women were decked out in military camouflage, bulletproof vests, guns and a few had ear pieces similar to those you would see on police or the Secret Service. They didn’t say a word, but their presence alone had everyone’s head turning.
Right away, people started shouting at them, getting in their face (although not in a violent manner) and whispering to strangers nearby. A militia with guns surrounding a protest of the enemy. I told the kids they were not good people, but not to worry about them.
And then I thought to myself: “Who are these people and why are they there?”
Everyone in the crowd were making all sorts of claims. Yet, not too many protesters went up to a member of this militia to find out what they were all about. I turned to the kids and said, “Let’s go talk to these guys and see what they have to say.”
After all, we were at a peaceful protest railing against people who discriminated against others in the past. And there we were…doing the exact same thing with no information other than how they looked. I was not setting a good example.
So we approached one of the men and I asked, “I was just curious who you guys are with and your purpose here.”
Naturally, he was very standoffish with his answer. Why wouldn’t he be? Everyone he came to contact with so far had been very aggressive.
“Listen! We’re not here to harm anybody!”
After I explained I was trying to teach the kids the value of listening to both sides, the man with firearms and fatigues immediately let down his guard. We went on to have a friendly, comfortable, light-hearted 15-minute conversation.
According to the man, they were there to ensure that everyone was safe and able to exercise their First Amendment rights. He claimed they were less interested in the purpose of the protest and more interested in safety and freedom. In fact, this particular militia member did not care if the city decided to change the name of the fountain. As long as the city did not tear the fountain down, we can call it whatever we want.
The man then went on to say that the Kansas City Police Department requested their presence. According to several other people present, several members of this group made the same claim. However, the KCPD denied this claim* in a tweet.
So who is the group of armed people showing up to a protest and alleging the KCPD invited them? They are called the III% United Patriots. From their website:
The III% UNITED PATRIOTS are the embodiment of mans’ desire for freedom. We believe in the fundamental rights of all human beings. Our rights do not come from a majority vote, from politicians, or even from the Constitution – and they are not subject to infringement by a government which ignores the Supreme Law of this land.
“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”
We pledge our commitment to the absolute restoration of our Bill of Rights, and further, to strict adherence to the legal and moral principles of the Declaration of Independence, upon which this nation was founded. We will rise against any assault on the unalienable rights granted by our Creator.
If you believe in Liberty, and in the Truths upon which this nation was founded, you are a member of the,
III% UNITED PATRIOTS.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has named the Three Percenters as an “active patriot group.” According to the SPLC website:
Generally, such groups define themselves as opposed to the “New World Order,” engage in groundless conspiracy theorizing, or advocate or adhere to extreme antigovernment doctrines. Listing here does not imply that the groups themselves advocate or engage in violence or other criminal activities, or are racist.
In fact, the gentleman I spoke with said they had met with Antifa and found a lot of common ground. These guys appear to honestly believe they are objectively protecting the crowd. Yet, all the rally participants were real quick to give these guys shit and never bothered to find out what they were all about.
Except me and my two stepchildren.
So far, that’s the greatest teaching moment I have experienced, and I am damn proud of it.
* I am investigating allegations that the KCPD has requested their presence on numerous occasions. So far, neither side is talking.