Dozens of people gathered at City Hall Thursday to protest Kansas City’s mask mandate, which took effect Monday.
Some of the protesters screamed profanities at city staff and security team members as they demanded to be let inside the building, according to Chris Hernandez, a city spokesman.
Much of the crowd was positioned outside of the downtown building’s security checkpoint. Several carried signs with messages against the mask mandate. Others remained in the foyer near the building’s security checkpoint.
Hernandez said a few dozen protesters told the security team they wanted to enter the building. But that would be a breach of the city’s new mask rule, Hernandez said, so they were not allowed in.
Security staff were reorganized in the lobby and were not allowing anyone except city staff inside because “the crowd was blocking the entrance and being disruptive,” Hernandez said.
“Our security team handled the situation professionally and politely, despite the profanities and shouting directed at our staff,” Hernandez added.
The protest started at 2 p.m. and swelled to close to 200 attendants at its peak. By Thursday evening, many protesters began packing up and leaving.
Sgt. Jake Becchina, a Kansas City Police Department spokesman, said officers were sent to City Hall at the request of security staff to help keep the peace because of the council meeting happening at the time. He said the demonstration as peaceful overall, saying a few officers responded but no enforcement actions were needed.
Meanwhile on the 26th floor, the City Council recognized the service of retiring employees and passed a resolution directing the city manager to review salary ranges of city employees, among other items on the day’s docket.
Kansas City reinstated its mandate in response to growing number of cases of COVID-19. The delta variant of the virus has prompted many local governments to reconsider health orders in recent days.
The latest mask mandate requires masks to be worn when visiting indoor public spaces by most people over the age of 5, regardless of vaccination status.
Exemptions are offered to people with a medical condition or a disability. Masks also may not be worn if it can be verified that everyone in a room is vaccinated.