Pitchforks and Flags

Bark, No Bite at KC Stop the Steal Rally

By Peggy Bair

A widely – and perhaps oddly – publicized Kansas City “Stop the Steal Pitchforks and Flags Trump Rally” did not materialize as planned Saturday night at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City.

Barbs were exchanged – just not with pitchforks. The poking was all done with words.

In an age of mostly digital communication, the oddity is that the printed paper flyers had been hand-distributed on car windshields all over the Kansas City metro area, suburbs and surrounding towns from Leavenworth, KS to Olathe in store parking lots ranging from Walmart to Home Depot encouraging rally goers to “Bring your PITCH FORKS and FLAGS!!! Shovels, rake or axes” but ended the message with “peaceful, of course.”

The distribution of the flyer even hit Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas’s desk, prompting his response assuring the protest would be conducted safely:

When the time came for the rally, it was mostly a no-show with only one truck and one van carrying about 10 protesters total between them. None of them claimed to be the organizers.

Counterprotesters, who appeared in about the same numbers, walked up the hill from below the memorial at around the 4 p.m. time – and an SUV with a news photographer came by the area. The photographer walked around waiting for about 45 minutes, then left.

But after 5 p.m., more protesters arrived to join the lone truck that had been sitting quietly since 4 p.m. at the opposite end of the park. A hand appeared outside the truck passenger side window gripping the post of an unfurled “Trump 2020” flag.

Just two parking slots down from the truck, a counterprotester blasted YG & Nipsey Hussle’s “FDT” loudly from the radio in HIS truck. Nearby counterprotesters had formed an awaiting – masked – lineup. Their attention was on the van of protesters. None of the protesters were wearing masks.

As the two groups began to square off, instead of The Good, the Bad and The Ugly, the theme music was “FDT” on repeat blasting from the counterprotester’s truck.

Counterprotesters at left line up to wait for protesters who arrived Friday night at the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City for a Pitchforks and Flags Trump Rally. ©2020 Photo by Peggy Bair/HeartKC

From there, things never went beyond a verbal slapping match. There was no police presence. There were no big TV cameras or reporters with long microphone booms. There was just a barrage of non-stop overtalking disagreement about: the election and masks and the virus and who was cussing and who was right and who was not.

The bulk of the protesters at this rally, however, were young – most appeared to be in their 20s or younger. There were a few children. And even with trading the barbs, the atmosphere did not become heated…instead there was more than a little bit of what appeared to be appreciative laughter when the insults were delivered in a funny way. And smiles were plentiful, as if they might be actually enjoying the face-to-face discourse of whose argument was more clever. Or, as if things were different, they might all become frenemies.

Most of the protesters refused to give their names but most gave their location as Kansas or Missouri but would not say what town or suburb. Some said they were visiting from Atlanta. Several said they feared being harassed. They expressed anger that the mayor had shared the flyer on social media even though the flyer had suggested that people do so.

Protesters meet up with counterprotesters at a Stop the Steal Rally Saturday night that was held on the grounds of the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City. ©2020 Photo by Peggy Bair/HeartKC

The disagreements voiced between the protesters and counterprotestors were not unlike a typically embattled social media thread – with each side accusing the other of not listening, of cussing, of being insulting and hurtful of the other side while each side airing completely opposing viewpoints of how society should be structured.

Each group appeared to have brought their own peacemaker, though. Hunter Davis, of Gardner, KS, who did agree to give his name, was with the Trump protesters. He characterized himself as a peacemaker.

“I am a firm right wing supporter,” Davis said. “But If I run into somebody from the left-wing, I just say, ‘Hey, talk to me about your beliefs.’ They’re not going to change my mind. That’s not going to change,” he said. “But it’s all about listening to the other party. If everything was the same, it would be paradise. Everyone would have the same mindset. But we live in a world where everyone is individual,” Davis said. “I like listening to people. Some people just need someone to listen. People are frustrated. We’ve been locked down with everything that’s going on. People are frustrated and angry. This election has angered a lot of people. We need communication. We need cooperation. We need understanding and respect for people’s beliefs.”

“People are just…angry. And I don’t like it,” Davis said.

By around 6 p.m., the group seemed to agree that the cold was getting to them and the impending dinner hour creeped over everyone involved. Each group dispersed peacefully into the night.

A protester carried a Trump 2020 flag to a Kansas City Stop the Steal Rally Saturday night at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City. ©2020 Photo by Peggy Bair/HeartKC
©2020 Photo by Peggy Bair/HeartKC
©2020 Photo by Peggy Bair/HeartKC
Counterprotester Jacob Collins, 22, attended the rally to speak to the Trump supporters about his differing viewpoint.
©2020 Photo by Peggy Bair
Trump protesters listened as counterprotestors argued their points over the variety of topics of disagreements the two groups chose to clash over Saturday night during a “Stop the Steal Pitchforks and Flags Trump Rally” at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City.
©2020 Photo by Peggy Bair/HeartKC
©2020 Photo by Peggy Bair/HeartKC
About 10 protesters gathered to protest the presidential election results in a Stop the Steal “Pitchforks and Flags Trump Rally” A woman of the Trump protesters, center – who refused to give her name because, she said, she fears being harassed, makes a point with one of the counter-protesters Saturday night on the grounds near the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City. Hunter Davis, (in red) from Gardner, KS, one of the protesters, said he sees himself as a bit of a mediator in the group.
©2020 Photo by Peggy Bair/HeartKC
It was a cold but mostly uneventful evening Saturday when a Stop the Steal Rally failed to materialize as planned at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City. Video at approximately 4:55 p.m. Dec. 12, 2020. ©2020 by Terry Bair/HeartKC

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Peggy Bair

Peggy Bair is a Midwest journalist and photographer covering human interest stories throughout Middle America.

I am an alum of the English Department of the University of Missouri – Kansas City with continuing studies in Nutrition Communications from Arizona State University.
I am a member of the American Society of Media Photographers, the National Press Photographers Association and Professional Photographers of America. I have worked on the staffs of six different newspapers throughout my career and specialize in people stories. Your support of local journalism helps me keep bringing stories that connect us and perhaps lift your spirits.

Although my business has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, I have not accepted any payment, grants, government assistance or unemployment for my journalism during this pandemic. If you would like to donate to support honest, informative storytelling, you can contribute by posting any amount to my PayPal donation link. In any case, sharing the link to this story with others helps spread the positive, share the happiness that is HeartKC.