Wearing face masks and carrying signs, hundreds of Wichitans demonstrated in front of the north police substation Saturday afternoon to call for justice for George Floyd and other African-Americans killed by police officers.
Floyd, a black man from Minneapolis, was killed earlier this week while in police custody after a white officer kneeled on his neck for about seven minutes, despite Floyd telling him he couldn’t breathe. Four officers involved were fired; one, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder.
Several elected officials and community activists — along with Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay, who on Thursday wrote on Twitter that Floyd’s killing was "murder" — spoke to demonstrators before the group marched down 21st Street to Grove.
"I am here today and our cops that are with me are here because we care,” Ramsay said. "We care deeply about this community, and we want this stuff stopped."
Former City Council member Lavonta Williams told the crowd they need to keep voicing their concerns.
"If we don’t speak up, it will continue," she said. "It’ll be a different name, but it’ll be a black man."
Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple once again called for the city to revive its civil rights commission, something he campaigned on last year. He said it’s "about time" the council begin appointing members.
“It’s about time that Wichita makes sure that we never have to go through — any more, or in the future — what the families of these victims have been going through,” he said.
The rally in Wichita was one of several that have taken place across the country. While some have broken out into conflict between police officers and demonstrators, the afternoon event in Wichita was peaceful.
A second protest was developing early Saturday evening in downtown Wichita.
Ty West, a speaker at the first rally on Saturday, said action is needed.
"I’m angry. I’m upset," he said. "I’m not gonna sit here and promote violence against the police. I respect this protest. But we will not sit there and accept any police officer here or anywhere else doing anything like that again.
"Wichita, Kansas, is not gonna stand for it."