The barbeque held in Wichita, Kansas last Sunday with over 1,800 people wasn’t just any ordinary picnic – but it was so successful that other police departments are wanting to copy it.
Black Lives Matter had scheduled another protest demonstration in Wichita for last Sunday, July 17, but the police chief had another idea. The Wichita Police Department announced they were having a barbeque cookout, and invited all the Black Lives Matter protesters.
BLM activists accepted the invitation, and the police department provided all the food. The event drew almost 2,000 people – white, black and Hispanic – police officers, Black Lives Matter activists and city residents. They ate, danced together, bonded, healed.
— Wichita Police (@WichitaPolice) July 18, 2016
The event drew nationwide attention – even an invite to the White House was extended to Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay, but he had to turn it down, as he’s serving as a justice of the peace at a wedding this weekend.
A black pastor said after the event, “To get 1,800 people out to that park, to get police officers and people who have issues with them, to break bread and dance together, people that have been burning on the inside for years, we erased some of that doubt and fear.”
Ramsay said he noticed something else in days following the cookout. “You look at the (online) posts, you see a lot of, ‘I’m proud of my city,’” he said.
Moving forward beyond the cookout, Ramsay said, it will become clearer “what an important event it was for our city. It shows you the power of face-to-face discussion and getting to know each other when there’s not a crisis,” he said. “People don’t really have a lot of police contact. When they do, it’s when something bad’s going on: a ticket or an arrest.”
It was a stark comparison to an earlier confrontation between BLM activists and police officers in Wichita.
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