After a protest, Wichita police fired up the grill for a community cookout.

Protests are generally meant to raise awareness and make people pay attention.

And in that regard, the Wichita Black Lives Matter march on July 12, 2016, was an unequivocal success.

On that day, hundreds of Kansans turned out to make their anger heard in response to the continued police killings of black Americans. And while city and state police gathered to keep a watchful eye on the evening's events, they simply watched the protest happen without intervening ('cause, ya know, people have a First Amendment right to assemble and speak out, and it's the job of the police to uphold the law 'n' stuff).


A.J. Bohannen leads a group of Black Lives Matter protesters in Wichita, Kansas, on July 12, 2016. Image via U.S. Latest News/YouTube.

But the day after that protest, things really got cookin'…

According to ABC News in Kansas, Wichita police chief Gordon Ramsay (as opposed to chef Gordon Ramsay) invited local Black Lives Matter leaders to meet with him at the police headquarters the day after the protest — not to reprimand their actions, but to have a discussion about where to go next.

"We definitely want a citizen review board with subpoena power. We want an outside prosecutor to come in and look at these police involved shootings," said BLM organizer A.J. Bohannen, who was in attendance that day, about the changes he wanted to see (you can read his interview with KAKE here).

"Our officers are going call to call to call. They don't have time to build positive relationships," Ramsay said at a press conference the next day, when asked about how his department was functioning, and what he wanted to change. "It's reactive policing. It's not a healthy way to do it. And what I heard from protesters last night is they want to see community policing."

"The heart and soul of who I am: I am about community relationships, and we just need to figure these things out."

Police chief Gordon Ramsay. Image via City of Wichita/YouTube.

Ramsay listened to what protesters had to say and decided that the next big step in figuring things out would be for the police to … cook dinner for everyone.

BLM organizers had been planning another protest for July 17. But that was when they were still expecting their cries to be ignored once again.

After the successful conversation with Ramsay on July 12, the BLM organizers decided to cancel the upcoming protest. Then, Ramsay and his officers hosted a community cookout instead, in an effort to improve relationships, start conversations, and promote positive interactions between officers and citizens.

About 400 people RSVP'd to the appropriately-named First Steps Cook Out on Facebook — and more than 1,000 showed up at McAdams Park on that Sunday evening.

In addition to some tasty burgers and dogs, there were speeches by local community leaders, and a Q&A session with the police to open up the conversation about how to make communities safer and improve respect across the board.


And for those who couldn't attend? Speeches from community leaders of all races and creeds were broadcast over Facebook Live. (Unfortunately, Mark Zuckerberg still hasn't figured out how to make hot dogs available over streaming video.)


For some people in Wichita, it was the first time in decades they actually had a chance to sit with and engage police officers in a civil discussion. While there are plenty of factors that have contributed to this breakdown in police-community relations in the city itself, something as simple as a First Steps Cook Out is an important first step toward changing how the system works.


But mostly, it was also just fun, effective community building.

See, nothing solves problems quite like dancing.


Apparently, some officers even learned about the crucial law enforcement skill known as the whip and nae nae.


And the whole event was perhaps even more impactful given the tragic shootings that occurred in Baton Rouge earlier day.

The First Steps Cook Out was a remarkable testament to the power of activism, both in the community and on the part of the police.

It was still just a first step — but it was a big one in the right direction.

Protests might seem inconvenient — and that's because they're meant to expose grievances that people don't want to talk about. For the Black Lives Matter organizers in Wichita, their actions succeeded in a way that nothing else had up until this point.

Of course, none of this would have been possible if the Wichita police weren't also willing to reach out and connect and try to offer solutions, too. Like most things, it's a two-way street, where a willingness to compromise makes progress come easier.

"This isn't something we're going to change overnight or tonight," Ramsay told the local Channel 12 News. "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."

He continued this line of thought in an interview with ABC News: "The biggest point that I want to make is that it starts with me, right? And I have set the tone that we are gonna treat people fairly and with dignity and respect, and it starts with me."

Sometimes that first step is the hardest to take. But Wichita found a way — and hopefully other communities can follow suit.

Here's a video from the event, if you'd like to see it for yourself:


More
Alie Ward

Your dinner plate shouldn't shame you for eating off of it. But that's exactly what a set being sold at Macy's did.

The retailer has since removed the dinnerware from their concept shop, Story, after facing social media backlash for the "toxic message" they were sending.

The plates, made by Pourtions, have circles on them to indicate what a proper portion should look like, along with "helpful — and hilarious — visual cues" to keep people from "overindulging."

There are serval different styles, with one version labeling the largest portion as "mom jeans," the medium portion as "favorite jeans," and the smallest portion as "skinny jeans."

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

In today's installment of the perils of being a woman, a 21-year-old woman shared her experience being "slut-shamed" by her nurse practitioner during a visit to urgent care for an STD check.

The woman recently had sex with someone she had only just met, and it was her first time hooking up with someone she had not "developed deep connections with."

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being
Youtube

Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Keep Reading Show less
Most Shared