On May 30, a pro-choice rally happened on Park Central Square here in Springfield, MO. For the first chunk of the day, all was going well and it was just a peaceful rally against the recent Missouri bill placing a ban on abortions after 8 weeks.
Then, counter-protestors showed up with megaphones, speakers, and a police escort, who throughout the day started to increase in number and to close off all the roads leading to the square, preventing the public from seeing or hearing the rallies.
Members of the pro-life side of the rally repeatedly shouted at and antagonized the pro-choice rallies, and one of the protestors who was a preacher allegedly ended up spitting on and shoving several members of the pro-choice movement.
During one of these incidents of him harassing people, someone on the pro-choice side allegedly threw a half-full cup of water at him, at which point he feigned serious pain and pointed randomly into the crowd behind him, landing on a young black girl, who was then arrested for assault.
In the process of arresting her, police also aggressively detained a man who was a veteran with his service dog for unknown reasons, charging him with assault as well as repeatedly hitting and taking him even after he was in handcuffs. You can see the video of both of those arrests here.
Alongside these two arrests, there were three others arrested as well, all charged with assault in the fourth degree (which is typically in reference to assaulting an officer or resisting arrest), but the overall confrontation is "under investigation" according to Springfield News-Leader.
Friends of mine who were at the rally and choose to remain anonymous have told me that when asked why many of the pro-choice people were arrested but the person who had been shoving and spitting on people wasn't, an officer replied "It won't do any good, we've brought him in too much to expect it to change anything."
Whether or not you believe the arrests were justified, we can all agree that when viewing that footage it appears by all accounts that the police were using excessive force and it isn't doing anything to make our community feel any safer to have police en masse present at a peaceful rally, especially now that we've seen they have a history of aggression.
If you were truly dedicated to protecting our community, you would work with us when we use our first amendment rights, not against us.