KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On Wednesday evening, the Kansas City Police Department is holding a Unity March from Southmoreland Park to Mill Creek Park near the Plaza.
Police and the community plan to walk side by side in a mutual show of respect.
At 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, protesters began slowly filing into Mill Creek Park where protests have been staged for six days.
The Unity March will end at the same park with members of the Kansas City police and fire departments and Mayor Quinton Lucas walking with the community.
“This is more about systemic change and not necessarily about good and bad people in the police force,” Overland Park resident Carrie Paulette said. “So I really want to be listening to the black community and what they are saying, what they need right now and follow their lead.”
Amanda Nolasco was also at the protest Sunday and was back for a second day Wednesday.
“I just wanted to continue to show my support.” Nolasco said. “I’m not having to work right now, so I think it’s a good use of my time to continue to show support for civil rights and equality.”
Some people like Rev. Randy Fikki have spent every day at the protests and are now ready to move forward to work on solutions.
Fikki and other community leaders are demanding police body cameras, local control of the police department, officer accountability and an independent council to police the department.
“We have been trying to find a way to bridge the gap,” Fikki said. “They are on one side, and we are on the other side. We’re yelling back and forth, and everybody’s either pretending to listen or they’re listening and not able to hear because we’re so far apart.”
Some, like Fikki, see the Unity March as the first solid effort for city government to come together with a community that feels dismissed and discounted.
“I think what this march will do today is it will create a bridge where some of us can walk halfway and the others can walk halfway,” Fikki said.
“What I’m hoping will come from that, is the ability to have a dialogue, the ability to shake hands, the ability to embrace one another’s ideas, for us to understand where they’re coming from and, more importantly, to be understood from where we are coming from. That’s what this march is about today.”
The Black Lives Matter group is planning a counter-protest Wednesday night. Organizers of both events hope for peace, not clashes, believing that would defeat the purpose of coming together in unity.