KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After video came out last summer of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds before his death, there were protests across America and in Kansas City. At first, protesters clashed with police.
“Last summer, we learned we were 2 or 3 days late, and we wanted to be as proactive as possible as this time, not knowing what the verdict was going to be,” United Believers Community Church Pastor Darron Edwards said.
So the group of clergy known as Getting to the Heart of the Matter planned an event within an hour of the verdict, which turned into a bit of a celebration for them after Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts.
“You might ask why are they celebrating just one victory. It just goes to show you the pain and hurt that our community is dealing with,” St. James UMC Pastor Emanuel Cleaver III said. “There are cases here in Kansas City. I have experienced police brutality, and there was never any justice. So it’s just a small step, but it was a step in the right direction.”
Some celebrations, like that at the 18th and Vine barber shop Joey Cuts, were more tempered.
“I’d like to think this is an example to show people that at least one Black man’s life matters, but if the odds are 1 out of every 1000, that’s not good enough,” the owner of Joey Cuts said after watching the verdict with customers.
But the overwhelming sentiment was one of progress toward real discussions about police reform and social justice.
“If we will together stand for that purpose, we can change not only the George Floyd decisions, but we can change the way we see and view each other,” said the Rev. Gregory Nichols, moderator for the New Era District of Kansas City.
Cleaver III said he’d like to see an independent review board formed with authority to investigate police brutality cases in the area.