KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Exactly one week after local demonstrations began, a powerful protest took over the steps of Kansas City’s City Hall on Friday, then took over the streets of downtown.
“We have work to do, y’all. We have to improve policing. Have to ensure we’re building an intersectional master plan to preserve and protect the value of black lives. Yes, we shall overcome,” said Melissa Robinson, a Kansas City councilwoman.
Easily more than 1,000 people packed into the corridor between City Hall, police headquarters and the courthouse.
The prominent message in the rally was that the movement must go beyond anger over George Floyd’s death and keep the spark that’s ignited burning for real community change.
Together, those demonstrating recognize what’s galvanized protests, and calls for policing policy changes while decrying injustice, also have the power to propel action.
“What would would Dr. Martin Luther King say about this? He said, ‘I have a dream.’ Now it’s a nightmare. It’s a nightmare. And what are we going to do to make it different?” protester Lacey Knight said.
Robinson gave an impassioned plea for those gathered to never abandon their protest, but to make a long-term plan of action to help ensure black lives matter.
“This is broader issue more than a camera or police oversight. This is about the persistence of systemic knees on the necks of black lives,” Robinson said.
She’s laying out a seven-step plan to reform city policy well beyond the police department.
The plan includes everything from transportation and housing, to ensuring development deals don’t divert tax dollars away from struggling schools — all things aimed at helping communities of color.
Volunteers were out helping people take an important first step in registering to vote.
“We need to make sure we’re voting for the people who will actually represent us and aren’t out for their own interests,” volunteer Mo Mbogori said.
Even the youngest protesters know the fight must carry on to make a better future that they live to see.
“We just trying to live our lives, make changes before we grow up. We probably ain’t gonna die if changes start coming,” 12-year-old Tyjuan Washington said.
Mayor Quinton Lucas on Friday signed onto a petition for wide-ranging changes to policing, beyond what he’s already helped enact, an effort led by Black Lives Matter.
The mayor also said he hopes these voices don’t go silent anytime soon.
“We need to make sure y’all not just with me today, and not just pushing us today. You’re pushing us next week, next month, next year, the year after. Because we’re gonna make sure we make change,” Lucas said.