Instead of a protest, Black Lives Matter activists in Wichita, KS, joined their local police department for the First Steps Cookout to open dialogue and bring together the community. Both sides decided this was a better option, especially after police shootings in Dallas, TX, and Baton Rouge, LA.

BLM planned a protest, but Chief Gordon Ramsay (no, not the celebrity chef!) persuaded them to attend the cookout. Pictures show that all had fun and had a positive impact on the community:

“Very good vibe. Very good vibe. It’s everything I was hoping for,” says Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay.

A.J. Bohannon had organized the BLM protest, but decided to help the Wichita PD with the cookout instead:

“First thing we want to do is break that boundary and break that barrier, the second thing we want to do is start that conversation,” said Bohannon.

Ramsay held a question and answer forum with the citizens:

One man says he viewed the cookout as an attempt to take attention away from real cause of the tension between some citizens and police.

Ramsay says his department is committed to making things better.

“This isn’t something we’re going to change overnight or tonight,” he says. “It’s just going to take continual effort on everybody’s part. And work on policy changes, relationships. And that’s what’s going to get to the heart of the issues.”

Resident James Holland enjoyed the cookout and has never seen anything like it before:

“If I were to ask you the question when was the last time you saw this happen, you would say never because it has not happened,” said Holland.

Holland is hopeful the cookout will move the community in the right direction.

“I believe that this event is going to show our community that you can voice your opinion without being radically offensive,” said Holland.

Businesses and residents donated food and supplies when they heard about the cookout. The Wichita Wagonmasters helped cook the food so the police “could mingle and visit with citizens.”

Here are more pictures! Let’s hope more communities do this. There are more pictures on the Wichita PD Twitter account. Please look and retweet them!!

[Featured Image via Twitter]


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