KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Together but apart: That was the overarching theme from Wednesday night’s two demonstrations at the County Club Plaza.
Two different groups of protesters gathered in that one area Wednesday night, all hoping to make a change.
But the group at the Unity March, organized by Kansas City police and city leaders, and those at a Black Lives Matter counter-protest seem to have different views.
One is ready to stand with police while the other says now’s not quite the time.
At the Unity March, Kansas City police promoted it as an event “for human rights and peace in our streets” where police, city leaders, pastors and the community could all walk together.
“At first I was a little hesitant about it, but then when I heard the police were in on it as well, I thought that we’re all going to be safe tonight, and I hope that we have a peaceful march,” said Carter Sapp, who attended the Unity March with his grandmother.
Mayor Quinton Lucas and Chief Rick Smith started the march by announcing that KCPD had secured more than $2 million needed to purchase body cameras for all officers through community donors.
Lucas, Smith and dozens of officers joined as hundreds marched to Brush Creek Park, where several nights of protests have already taken place.
There were tables and chairs at the end of the march, where citizens could ask tough questions. Many agree something has to change.
Another group was already waiting at Brush Creek Park when the Unity March arrived. Kansas City’s Black Lives Matter group organized a counter-protest Wednesday night.
Many said after actions they saw during the past few nights of protesting, they’re hesitant to throw their support to Kansas City police right now.
“I hope the things that are coming out of KCPD and the mayor’s office are genuine,” protester Elizabeth Deroulet said. “I’m just keeping my guard up because I don’t want this to fetter out. I don’t want this to lose momentum. I want us to make impactful change.”
As of 11 p.m. many who attended the Unity March continued to protest near the Plaza, as did the counter-protesters — although the groups remain somewhat separate still.
Police said both groups have been largely peaceful Wednesday night, and they’re optimistic it will stay that way.
Like Tuesday night, officers have been giving protesters more space and protesters haven’t been throwing things as much Wednesday night. Police have not deployed any tear gas on Wednesday, and as of 9 p.m. there had not been any arrests, according to a police spokesman.