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Kansas City won’t prosecute nonviolent protesters

June 19, 2020 GMT
Renay Jay, of University City, displays a sign to members of the Missouri National Guard, Tuesday, June 9, 2020, at the gates of the Florissant police station in Florissant, Mo. Demonstrators were calling attention to the suspension of a Florissant detective after he reportedly struck a man with his police car during a pursuit. (Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)
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Renay Jay, of University City, displays a sign to members of the Missouri National Guard, Tuesday, June 9, 2020, at the gates of the Florissant police station in Florissant, Mo. Demonstrators were calling attention to the suspension of a Florissant detective after he reportedly struck a man with his police car during a pursuit. (Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)
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Renay Jay, of University City, displays a sign to members of the Missouri National Guard, Tuesday, June 9, 2020, at the gates of the Florissant police station in Florissant, Mo. Demonstrators were calling attention to the suspension of a Florissant detective after he reportedly struck a man with his police car during a pursuit. (Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City officials will not pursue misdemeanor charges against those who took part in peaceful street protests to decry racial injustice following the police-involved killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The City Council voted 9-2 Thursday to bar the city from prosecuting protesters, as long as they didn’t commit a violent crime or damage property, the Kansas City Star reported.

“It’s important because as elected officials, we have a duty and a charge to understand issues, understand the law and preserve democracy,” said Councilman Brandon Ellington, who introduced the legislation.

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More than 220 people who took to the streets from May 29 through June 2 were arrested. Supporters of Thursday’s decision have said police incited unrest by showing up in riot gear, pepper spraying the crowd and deploying tear gas. The police union had opposed dropping the charges against protesters.

The ordinance would not protect those who may have caused property damage or committed violent acts.