Usually when you hear “cops” and “Black Lives Matter” together in a sentence, the story doesn’t have a happy ending. But police and protestors in Wichita, Kansas, decided to change the narrative, and their efforts are now going viral.
Members of the Black Lives Matter movement had planned to stage a protest at McAdams Park on Sunday, but when the Wichita Police Department found out about it, Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay had a sit down meeting with activist A.J. Bohannon and other members of the local Black Lives Matter movement.
The group had a lengthy discussion about how the two sides could come together and work toward healing and change. Instead of a protest, Black Lives Matter agreed to cohost a First Steps Community Cookout with the police department that would bring the community together to have an open and honest discussion between police and members of the community.
On Sunday, members of the police department – many of them in full gear – ate, danced, and played games with residents of Wichita.
“We can get on the same page and say those things that are in Baton Rouge don’t trickle over into Wichita, Kan.,” he said. “My heart goes out to the families, those officers in Baton Rouge, but I think the fact that that did happen makes this event more meaningful. I definitely think this is a start for this community, and I definitely want to keep it going.”
Many called the event “historic.” One woman, whose son played basketball with some of the officers, said, “It was a bonding moment where the police saw them as children and my [sons] got to see them as people! It was a great first step Chief Gordon Ramsey and Wichita PD!”
“We are on the road to real, life giving solutions,” she continued. “We are breaking down barriers. We downed over 2,000 hamburgers and hot dogs, built relationships, laughed, cried, and danced. This is what humanity was designed to do. Work together, love each other and live in COMMUNITY. Could you imagine the history that would be made if the rest of our nation followed this example??”
“It takes two parties to make a healthy relationship,” he said.
The event sparked hope for a lot of people who have seen police and citizen relations as a hopeless chasm to cross. One Twitter user wrote, “This makes me happy! First time in a while that anything in the news made me smile. There is hope.”
Would you like to see your community hold a “first steps” cookout? So share this!