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A Year After George Floyd's Murder, Four Black Wichitans Reflect

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Carla Eckels
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KMUW
Clockwise from top left: Alvin Robinson, Ford Carr, Ricky Lee and Keith Hope

It’s been a year since the death of George Floyd, whose murder sparked demonstrations worldwide against police violence.

A guilty verdict was handed down last month to former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin; he's scheduled to be sentenced next month. Three more officers will be on trial later this year for their involvement in Floyd's death.

Here, four Black men who attended an event at Wichita's McAdams Park honoring Floyd reflect on the past year and the continued need for police reform.

Alvin Robinson

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Credit Carla Eckels / KMUW
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Alvin Robinson, 57, is a truck driver in Wichita. He attended an event last month honoring George Floyd.

I'm a truck driver. I was listening to the whole trial throughout the whole time and sometime I had turned off because it made me mad, but when the verdict came down, I was honking my horn. I was all on that horn and people were looking at me and they knew, they (gave me a) thumbs up, because hey, guilty, guilty, guilty.

So, it means a lot to me, it meant a lot to me and I'm proud of it. I want the police to realize that … as a Black man, (if we) get pulled over, we’re going to be scared. We don't know what's going to happen. So, whatever our demeanor will be, work with us. Don't entice us to be even more scared. No telling what we're going to do. So, I tell young kids now to abide by the laws, which we have to do. Don’t try to argue with the cop, just do what he says, and we'll figure it out later. And your life depends on it.

Ford Carr

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Credit Carla Eckels / KMUW
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KMUW
Ford Carr, 53, says Chauvin's verdict was a small step and wants to see police reform in Wichita.

The guilty verdict is really just a small, a small step because so many times, we see these situations arise and nothing comes from it. Now, we're still anxiously awaiting what the sentencing might be. However, we're happy that at least the appropriate verdict was reached in this matter.

We have a community organization called “Us Doing Us." We want this to be a trend. I'm speaking justice for all people, you know, most specifically people of color. They say that "all lives matter," but when Black lives aren't a part of that all lives that are supposed to matter, then all lives don't matter.

We've had some discussions with the Wichita Police Department and what we'd really like to see is an absolutely separate training program. Of course, it will be in addition to the training that they're already getting. We want that training to come from the perspective of someone that looks most like us. And that's out there, even as close as Dallas, Texas; they're doing some of those things. And we would like for Wichita, our local government, to get on the front end of that train and not the caboose.

Ricky Lee

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Credit Carla Eckels / KMUW
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KMUW
Ricky Lee, 65, says bad police need to be removed and police departments need to be cleaned up.

It's got to be cleaned up. I mean, you got to have police, but you got to have clean police. All of them ain’t dirty, but the ones that are dirty need to be plucked out and we gotta clean it up.

And when we need them, we'll call them, but we don't need to call them and they pull out and take us out. We need to add to what we got and the professionals that we got to help us grow, not help us go. So that's what we’re looking for.

Keith Hope

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Credit Carla Eckels / KMUW
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KMUW
Keith Hope says he hopes Chauvin's guilty verdict is the start of a trend in fixing injustice.

The verdict is something that is just long overdue for us to have a victory and what we have seen so much injustice, and finally, they got it right. And hopefully this is the start of a new trend.

I'm all for justice. You know, my father served for the fire department here in Wichita. I remember as a kid, when they went on strike and the police force went on strike, I was out there as a child, holding picket signs. I'm about law enforcement, but this systematic injustice is just unreal and especially nationwide, you know, I just hope that we can start moving in the right direction.