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MOIND-082620-farmers market kerfuffle

By Mike Genet

The manager of Independence’s Farmers Market said a disturbance involving a group of anti-mask protestors at last Saturday’s market was “more of an annoyance” than anything and did not become a physical confrontation.

Joe Antoine said police and some market vendors prevented people in the protesting group – about 50 people, with some holding signs – from going inside the enclosed market building late Saturday morning. 

“They only came down through the pavilion,” Antoine said, adding that the off-duty officer on site requested some backup, and the protesting group moved off to the side of Uptown Market along Truman Road. At least one protestor continuously revved a motorcycle engine during the disturbance, he said.

“They probably stayed on Truman Road a good half hour or 45 minutes,” Antoine said.

The police call log, with a call for service initiated by officers, described the incident as a “small disturbance but a large crowd” and that it was “handled by officer.” A police spokesperson said no official report had been filed.

Since the city of Independence allowed the Farmers Market to open earlier this summer amid the pandemic, all vendors and customers have been required to wear masks. Because of social distancing requirements, Antoine said the Saturday markets have averaged about 20 farm vendors and haven’t had craft vendors. Barricades have been in place to route traffic around the Uptown Market, and arrows are in place to encourage one-way walking.

Antoine said the incident perhaps scared off a few customers, but he wasn’t concerned about long-term effects.

“Most of our regular customers are going to come rain or shine, protest or not,” he said. “They’re pretty dedicated.”