Protesters gather across Kansas to rally for racial justice

Jennifer Stultz
Wichita Chief of Police Gordon Ramsay spoke to a rally crowd on Saturday, May 30 in Wichita, Kansas, showing heartfelt emotion as he called for the conviction of Minnesota policeman Chauvin in the death of George Floyd. The death sparked national protests and rallies for racial justice.

An estimated crowd of 2,000 gathered at the East 21st Street police precinct in Wichita, Kansas on Sunday to protest in the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

The rally was in line with others taking part across the country as protesters in many cities made pleas for justice regarding the situation in which George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died Monday after white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin continued to kneel on his neck after he became unresponsive during an arrest.

People from Haven, to Newton, Andover and beyond, wore masks at the Wichita rally, held signs and chanted. The pain from the death of Floyd was apparent. Local politicians stepped up and made moving speeches. Wichita Chief of Police Gordon Ramsay stood up and spoke from the heart as he said numerous times, the death of Floyd was avoidable, “it was murder.”

Wichita State University provided free space in their parking lot and the Sonic Drive-In near the precinct shut down from 12-4:30 p.m. Members of the Wichita Black Alliance handed out masks and many donated water to those who needed it.

Many passing motorists honked, showing their support for the rally.

In Kansas City, local officials praised a peaceful protest in Kansas City, Missouri, but it turned ugly when police fired tear gas into the crowd after some demonstrators began lobbing water bottles, law enforcement officials said.

A large crowd built up at the County Club plaza and police had allowed it to slowly dissipate after the city’s 8 p.m. curfew took effect. But police used stronger tactics against the smaller crowd that remained when rocks and water bottles started flying and two television station news vehicles were smashed and set on fire.

Police declared the scene an “unlawful assembly” and said the area was clear of activity by midnight.

Back across the state line in Kansas, mostly peaceful protests took place in additional metropolitan cities like Hutchinson, Salina and Topeka, where planned speakers shared opinions, former injustices and hope for the future.

Hundreds of protesters marched down Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence on Sunday evening, with crowds later reconvening at South Park where people listened to speakers talk about the wrongful death of George Floyd.

* Gannett reporter Charles Chaney (Butler County Times-Gazette) contributed to this article.