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Overland Park BLM protest calls for deep conversation around racial issues

OP BLM 6.20.20
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Posted at 6:57 PM, Jun 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-20 20:20:35-04

OVERLAND PARK, Kan.  — Black Lives Matter protests continued Saturday as organizers took their message to Overland Park.

This protest started at Overland Park City Hall with more than a couple hundred people marching and chanting as they made their way to the clock tower downtown.

"I’m coming out here because Black lives do matter," Olathe resident Darnell Hunt said.

Hunt and his daughter attended the protest, wanting to be a part of the movement.

"We need to make wholesale structure change in this country, especially our police force," Hunt said.

Hunt's daughter, Lacey, had her own reasons for attending.

"Standing up for what I’m going to have to live with for the rest of my life," she said, "like, I shouldn’t have to worry about being pulled over by a cop and being scared."

Organizers like Linnaia McKenzie, founding member of the Advocacy and Awareness Group of Johnson County, want the event to produce a deep conversation around racial inequality, bias, profiling and injustice.

"To show support for the black community, to let them know that we see them, that we hear them and that we love them," McKenzie said. "So that it’s important for me to see that support in my community that we live in. It’s important for us to know that these issues affect us too, and it does make a difference for us to have that conversation and be aware of what’s going on."

The protest included speakers such as Rep. Sharice Davids.

"There are real solutions," Davids said, "and my job is to show up and listen and figure out how can I help."

And Overland Park Police Chief Frank Donchez.

"Relationships are only successful when if there’s communication," Donchez said. "Guess what? Communication can only be successful when we listen."

For many people who attended, it was their first protest, as they say these conversations and rallies are just as important in the more suburban communities.

"The reason I have the Jackie Robinson shirt on is I played minor league baseball with the Cubs and throughout our minor league system," Philip Hannon, of Baldwin City, said. "Not our system but some of the towns that we visited, my wife and I experienced some of the racial injustices throughout, so this is very important to me."

Hunt said there need to be rallies in every city and town.

"They need to have them out in the rural areas, people need to stand up if they need change," Hunt said. "This is the only way to get it. We need to shake things up."

"Black people are welcomed here, this is our community too we matter," McKenzie said.