Police and Black Lives Matter protesters just took a first step to reconciliation (TWEETS)

Elizabeth Mizon

A Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest was planned in Wichita, Kansas, for the weekend of 18 July, in the midst of a particularly horrifying couple of weeks in the US.

After the deaths of two men sparked protests and a police backlash against protesters, there were more repercussions: a man with a sniper rifle killed five police officers in Dallas, and was then killed himself, followed by another gunman killing two more officers in Louisiana.

But after discussions with the local police department, the BLM protest transformed into a collaborative barbecue.

It’s been named the ‘First Steps Community Cookout’.

Unsurprisingly, the event has received a lot of attention from the US media, and has also been trending on social media.

Some of the photos taken by the police have seen criticism, however, including one which shows a young “unsmiling” man looking alongside several officers. However, the young man, MarQuell Woods, responded to the criticisms saying, via his Facebook page:

…[I was] playing ball with students from West High School. I should have smiled I guess but we had fun.

NPR reports that the Wichita Chief of Police “thanked those who came — and issued a challenge to other police departments to hold similar barbecues”. The police chief said:

It takes two parties to make a healthy relationship.

The event was co-ordinated by BLM organiser AJ Bohanan and the Chief of Wichita Police. To add to the lighter tone of the news, the Chief of the Wichita Police’s name is Gordon Ramsay. Mic reported:

The organisers of the scheduled march met with Chief of Police Gordon Ramsay this week and decided to collaborate on a cookout in a local park, which also included a public forum where members of the community could ask Ramsay questions.

Hopefully, Ramsay also took it upon himself to ask the Wichita community questions – so valuable lessons could be learned by the police, from the community, too.

Pre-emptive collaboration between and within communities will undoubtedly help to support peace if  maintained. It’s not rocket science: People who know and understand each other are less likely to be afraid of, or attack each other.

Get involved.

Support Black Lives Matter directly.

Join the conversation about #BlackLivesMatter on Twitter.

Read The Canary’s coverage of Black Lives Matter.

Support The Canary‘s independent journalism.

Image via Wichita Police Department on Twitter.

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed