Peaceful protests have been defining KC’s reaction; this is what America should look like
Wednesday was fascinating.
The sixth day of protests in Kansas City started out as bad as it possibly could. Across scanners came the most feared two words in a police officer’s life….OFFICER DOWN. In an incident unrelated to the protests, an officer downtown was stabbed and rushed to the hospital in critical condition. As the two officers I was with heard the call, I took a picture. It was a cold reminder, that these men in uniform who had spent the last week standing in heat and riot gear are also human.
The focus of the night’s protest was to talk. There were no lines of armor-clad officers with tear gas and pepper spray that night. It was a tale of two protests. One group who wanted to march with city leaders in unity and promise of change met east of the Plaza to march. One group who wished to see change before they stood with city leaders gathered on the Plaza to wait. They met at the corner of Main & Cleaver Boulevard at the JC Nichols fountain. A street named for our first African-American mayor and a fountain named for a known racist.
It seemed appropriate.
There was no “Kumbaya” moment. Protesters screamed for the firing of the police chief as he walked towards the crowd. There was tension in the air. But there was also hope. Hope that this night might be a step forward and not a standoff. There were handshakes and hugs. There was open and honest discussion with police officers seated under tents. Slowly as the night wore on, laughter dampened anger, accusations developed into honest discussion and small glimmers of understanding evolved on both sides.
The problem was not solved.
There will be more protests. There will be more police who commit illegal acts of brutality. There will continue to be many misunderstandings on both sides. But it was a start. And as the sun set on this sixth day of protest, I looked back and thought, THIS is what America should look like. Imperfect in so many ways but continually striving for that grand ideal that ALL men are created equal.