Since the May 25th killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, protests have erupted in cities across the country. Mainly peaceful protests have been held in Kansas City over the past several days, but violence and property damage has erupted at times, forcing the Kansas City Police Department to declare the gatherings unlawful and institute curfews.
Jackson County Executive Frank White urged protestors to work for change through peaceful means.
“As members of our community come together to protest the tragic death of George Floyd and the undeniable injustices that men, women, and children of color still face in our country, I encourage them to do so loudly, passionately, and peacefully. We cannot allow the desires of a few, who are more interested in causing damage, to overshadow the vast majority who are demanding their voices be heard about legitimate and long-overdue reforms that are needed in our social and criminal justice systems. If allowed, their message will be lost and our community will suffer,” White said.
“While it may be hard at times like this, we must all also remember our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day. They have a tough job to do to maintain public safety and hold accountable those who break the law, including their own. As we move forward, law enforcement must work with the community, not against the community. It is the only way our community, our county, and our nation can truly begin to heal from a history of inequality.”
Grain Valley Police Chief James Beale states he understands the hurt the protestors feel.
“I would first like to extend my condolences to the Floyd family and everyone who has been affected by this tragic event. This incident is devastating and heartfelt around the world. This officer’s actions were wrong and he should be held accountable, along with any other officer on that scene with him that failed to protect Mr. Floyd. They are complicit in this incident. The aftermath of this crime is affecting many peoples lives. I understand peaceful protest, which I support one-hundred percent, but the looting, rioting, and egregious destruction of property are the action of opportunists who only have creating mayhem as their only agenda. Our country is hurting, and we want positive change desperately to remove inequality of our legal justice system and socioeconomic system. We need to hold our police chiefs accountable when they consistently allow officers with a history of Excessive Use of Force Complaints to continue being employed, and we need to assure that the right people are in office who are willing to make laws against inequality. I will use this phrase, ‘Hurt People, Hurt People’. When people hurt, they want others to feel their pain,” Beale said.
Local students Dave Griffith, Shaley Harper, Emma Howell, and Sam Westlake felt compelled to attend the protest on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City on Saturday, May 30th.
“I care about this protest because all lives can’t matter until black lives matter. This issue is very important to me because there are issues within our justice system that must be corrected,” Harper said.
“I have been politically active for a few years now. However, this is about far more than just politics. This is a human rights issue. As a white American, I feel I hold a certain responsibility to stand in solidarity with the black community,” Howell said.