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Kansas City protestors to leave City Hall grounds after three weeks as talks with officials begin

Kansas City protestors to leave City Hall grounds after three weeks as talks with officials begin
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Demonstrators are starting to leave City Hall grounds in Kansas City, Mo., after spending three weeks camped outside to demand police reform, with officials now in talks to establish new reform measures.

One major activist group associated with the occupation announced a "cease-fire" on social media, noting that public officials would begin talks about divesting funds from police budgets, The Kansas City Star reported.

"After a historic 21 day occupation at KC City Hall, The People's City is declaring a ceasefire as talks have begun with public officials regarding the reimagination of public safety and divesting funds from law enforcement," Black Rainbow, one of the groups with the occupation posted to Instagram.

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Ryan Sorrel, a Black Rainbow leader, told the Star that the cease-fire is temporary, adding that protesters would be back outside if City Hall negotiations fall through.

The occupied demonstrations began earlier this month in response to a video showing a Kansas City Police Department officer placing his knee on a pregnant woman's back while she was in custody, sparking outrage among many activists.

Demonstrators said they would not leave the lawn outside City Hall until leaders fired the officer in the video, removed Chief of Police Rick Smith from his position and promised to divest 50 percent of the department's budget.

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Sorrel said the decision to halt the occupation came in response to progress and talks made with city officials regarding the incident.

"We came into the occupation with three specific demands, but just like in the military, you kind of have to shift your objective and your goals as the environment changes and as you get more information," said Sorrel. "We saw this as a very strategic move in order to not absolve all of our resources."

City council members began discussions with protesters earlier this week, with demonstrators raising ideas about shifting some police responsibilities such as health crises and parking tickets to a social service program.

Sorrel said shifting police duties over to social workers is "really how we get to in a long term sense investing in the Black community and the brown community."

Mayor Quinton Lucas released a statement Saturday morning announcing he met with "groups seeking change" last week. He added he has met with various groups since May and plans to continue meetings to bolster trust.