Police, BlackLivesMatter Group Cancel Protest, Hold Cookout
It doesn't matter if you are on one side of the #BlackLivesMatter or #BlueLivesMatter debate, there's one thing that is for sure: Tensions are high right now on both sides.
It's easy to see that the only way for things to come to a peaceful end is for both sides to come together and listen to each other. That's exactly what the two groups decided to do this weekend in Kansas.
On Sunday, while the world was still letting the news of the shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge sink in, the First Steps Community Cookout took place at McAdams Park in Wichita.
Originally, there was a Black Lives Matter protest planned. Instead, the Wichita Police Department reached out to movement leaders in the city and suggested they come together in a peaceful way for the community. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office and Kansas Highway Patrol, other local law enforcement agencies, also decided to join in on the event.
More than 1,000 people came to the park for the cookout. The police department provided burgers and cooked them while many others brought food to contribute. A highlight of the event was a question and answer session with BLM leaders as well as Police Chief Gordon Ramsay.
People were able to vent their frustrations, find out some answers they may not have known, and all-in-all just have their voices heard by both sides of the debate. Live videos of the event were streamed on the Wichita Police Department's Facebook Page.
Both sides seemed happy with the event and agreed that the cookout was a good step towards opening up the conversation and ending the tensions between the police and the community.They also acknowledged that it's just the beginning of what it will take to fix all the problems.
"This isn't something we're going to change overnight or tonight," Chief Ramsay told KWCH News, "It's just going to take continual effort on everybody's part. And work on policy changes, relationships. And that's what's going to get to the heart of the issues"