Protesters line 18th and Paseo to show support, frustration during Biden’s KC visit

·2 min read

President Joe Biden was nowhere to be seen, yet at the intersection at Paseo and East 18th gaggles of factions supporting the president, former President Donald Trump, and some people calling for Biden to support efforts to end an ongoing war in Ethiopia gathered Wednesday, flags in hand in hopes of having their voices heard.

“I’m just hoping that he can recognize us” said Todd Bryan, 47, who held a rolled up flag with “Trump” written in bold.

Bryan and at least six or seven other protesters dressed in camouflage garments arrived on one corner of the Paseo. Their mission: remind the president of the November 2020 election, which they believe was rigged.

Courts have upheld the 2020 election results.

Across from his assemblage of Trump supporters, more than 30 Ethiopian and Eritrean protesters dressed in yellow, red and green, chanted “stop the war on Ethiopia.”

A third corner had been claimed by roughly 15 or so people holding white signs with “Build Back Better” and “Thank you, Biden” in blue.

All three groups had gathered in Kansas City’s historic 18th and Vine district where nearby President Biden was set to speak at the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority. It was the president’s first trip to the city since being elected, in which he touted his new $1.2 trillion infrastructure law.

“We appreciate him as president and want to thank him,” said Shellie Montemurro, a committee woman with the Jackson County Democratic Committee, a megaphone and a clipboard in hand. Kansas City’s roads are underfunded and this infrastructure bill will be important for remedying that and putting more people to work across the state, she says.

Other supporters on the corner said they were unaware so many different groups would be out vying for Biden’s attention.

After twenty minutes of watching the wave of yellow, red and green grow, Bryan and his fellow few protesters crossed the street to join the Ethiopian and Eritrean group. Together they shouted “stop Joe Biden,” at commuters passing through.

An Ethiopian man explained to Bryan that the crowd had gathered to voice their disdain for Biden’s foreign policy, including sanctions against Ethiopia and Eritrea and his support for a political party called the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which is fighting for power in the country.

“We know Biden is not going to listen to us, but he has to know everywhere he goes we are there,” said Henok Tekeste, who brought members of the Ethiopian community together to protest. “We supported him and voted for him, but no more.”

As the president’s motorcade rolled through the intersection, the groups’ chants molded into a cacophony among the bursts of horns and Ethiopian music blaring from parked cars.

“I think he saw me,” Bryan said, grinning from his seemingly close encounter with the president.

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