In an effort to begin mending the broken relationship between the African-American community and the police, a local Black Lives Matter chapter recently teamed up with their local police department to host a joint cookout.
Several members of the Witchita, Kansas Police Department were reportedly on hand to enjoy an afternoon of food, sports and even dancing with dozens of neighborhood kids and their parents. The event took the place of a protest that was originally planned for Sunday afternoon, but was cancelled after local Black Lives Matter activist AJ Bohannon met with Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay ahead of the planned protest to discuss solutions. "We can get on the same page and say those things that are in Baton Rouge don't trickle over into Wichita, Kansas," Bohannan told KMUW. "My heart goes out to the families, those officers in Baton Rouge, but I think the fact that that did happen makes this event more meaningful. I definitely think this is a start for this community, and I definitely want to keep it going."
Several images and video clips from the event have been circulating on social media, with one photo showing uniformed police officers hanging out with young Black men on the basketball court. Separate video footage shows police officers and elected officials dancing with the children in attendance at the cookout.
A mother whose young sons were photographed with law enforcement told NPR that the event allowed for the officers and the kids to see each other as they really are. "It was a bonding moment where the police saw them as children and my [sons] got to see them as people! It was a great first step Chief Gordon Ramsay and Wichita PD!"
WANT MORE FROM ESSENCE? Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest in hair, beauty, style and celebrity news.