WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Community reaction is beginning to pour in to a national Black Lives Matter chapter’s criticism of the First Step Cook Out last Sunday that brought local Black Lives Matter supporters and the Wichita Police Department.
The local movement was criticized on the Washington D.C. Black Lives Matter Twitter site following a viral video that showed a Wichita Police officer dancing with BLM supporters at the cookout last week.
The tweet bashed the event, saying, “This is not in line with our policies.”
After KSN’s story aired Thursday night, we received comments from many viewers who couldn’t understand why the national BLM chapter would have anything bad to say about the community cookout.
Among the more than 200 comments on KSN’s Facebook page was one from Eric, who said, “What works better? Blocking traffic and getting run over? Or bringing the entire community together to actually talk and get answers with good food, dancing and great company.”
Another viewer, Melina, wrote, “It’s going to change things because when you break bread together, when you see each other, when you laugh together you view each other as human beings.”
And, Robyn said, “Don’t even worry about DC…..We are taking care of our own business in Wichita. What works in Wichita may not work in DC. Mind your own Business BLM Washington!”
Those whom KSN interviewed on camera couldn’t understand why there would be any criticism of the community effort.
Phillina McIntosh asked, “Why would it be a problem? I mean that’s my whole perspective on it, we all came out to do something positive, we asked questions, questions got answered, we interacted and actually had community relations with people that is not often heard of.”
Meanwhile, the “God Squad,” a group of eight local pastors who hope to serve as a bridge between the community and police, is one of several positive things that came out of the cookout.
Two of the members can’t understand why there would be any negative feedback or backlash from any organization after what they say was such a beneficial event.
“I was very shocked, first of all I think what we had here in Wichita was a phenomenal event,” said Pastor Herman Hicks of the Greater Pentecostal Church of God in Christ. “I was pretty shocked, pretty stunned.”
Hicks and Pastor Marilyn Shaw want to improve community relations with the police.
“Not being a Black Lives Matter event, I don’t think Black Lives should be concerned about whether we were going against their policies or principles,” said Shaw.
“Here we have where a police officer is getting to know the kids, getting to know the community and if that comes in a dance video, while they are out there dancing or talking, so be it, it brings us together,” Hicks said.
And, Hicks said Black Lives Matter and other organizations need to come to one realization.
“You gotta sometimes put down the picket sign, you gotta sometimes put down the protest you are doing and sit down and talk to individuals who are able to make the changes that we so desperately need in our community,”
Despite the backlash from the Washington D.C. BLM chapter, the God Squad says there are still plans to continue to move forward to build relationships between the community and the police. They say they will begin training soon to be properly prepared to be of service, whether at a protest or at a traffic stop.