As much of the nation was reeling from yet another act of violence in Baton Rouge, LA, hundreds of Wichitans came out to a barbecue at McAdams Park with Wichita, KS, police officers, reports the Wichita Eagle.
Earlier in the week, protesters had planned to march on Sunday, but after organizers met with Police Chief Gordon Ramsay for hours, according to the protesters, they agreed to break bread together instead.
The idea was to open up lines of communication and build trust, from the perspective of the police, and for the protesters. While the march last week was largely young and black, the crowd at the barbecue drew whites, blacks, and Hispanics in larger numbers and included more older people and children.
At one table, three men - a black man, a Hispanic man and a white man - sat down with burgers next to Lt. Travis Rakestraw to share their ideas.
These smaller conversations, between community members and police, turned into a public forum at around 7 p.m. when hundreds gathered around a microphone to ask questions of Police Chief Gordon Ramsay.
Ramsay told the questioners that he wanted to hear more about their situations later. Many praised Ramsay for holding the event, and several audience members said that in all the years in Wichita, they couldn’t remember a police chief coming out in the community like this.