It’s been a tense week for activists and law enforcement nationwide, but something really special happened in Wichita, Kansas Sunday night. And it involved food.
Instead of a planned protest, nearly 1,000 people gathered in Wichita’s McAdams Park for a gathering called “First Steps Cookout.” Everyone at the gathering enjoyed free food and the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with law enforcement. According to photos on Wichita Police Department’s Facebook page, there was also a bounce house, which I imagine only further sweetened the deal.
Many people reported that it was a successful event and largely a positive step to bring the Wichita Police Department closer to the community it serves. According to Wichita’s Police chief Gordon Ramsay (not the angry British chef), the event had a “very good vibe” and it was everything he had hoped for.
Ramsay suggested the event to community leaders following a Black Lives Matter protest in the city last week. So instead of a protest, there was a barbecue. And it provided an opportunity for citizens and police to be introduced and to have a positive interaction.
The event included a Q and A session with Ramsay, and some in attendance did take the opportunity to voice frustrations. Ramsay says his department is committed to making things better.
“This isn’t something we’re going to change overnight or tonight,” he says. “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.”
In the video below, one woman says the event made her feel really good about the community, feel really good about Black Lives Matter, and just makes her feel good inside, period.
(Special thanks to the follower of the Kinda Kind Facebook page for giving me the heads up on this event in her hometown)