Black Lives Matter protest wraps up in Wichita

Published: Jul. 12, 2016 at 7:35 PM CDT
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A group of about 400 people gathered in northeast Wichita at about 7 p.m. Monday to participate in a protest for the Black Lives Matter movement. Several of them carried signs and voiced concerns with how they say people in the black community, including some people close to them, have been treated by law enforcement.

The group gathered at McAdams Park near 13th and Hydraulic and walked west toward I-135 where they were met by Kansas Highway Patrol troopers blocking them from getting onto the interstate. The group had planned to continue its walk onto the highway.

At no point was Interstate I-135 closed, although law enforcement was prepared to do so if necessary.

The group did speak to the troopers blocking their path at 13th and I-135 and said they just wanted the law enforcement to hear what they had to say. Members of the group shared their message demanding fair treatment from those in authority. The group eventually marched east and for a time, blocked traffic in the street near 13th and Grove. By about 10 p.m., the protesters had made their way back to McAdams Park where they had gathered about three hours earlier. The protest came to an end with no reports of injuries.

Before the protest began, A.J. Bohannon, the man who organized the event emphasized to the group that the protest was meant to be peaceful. He asked that there be no violence nor swearing. Bohannon wore a t-shirt that read, "Black Lives Matter," but he pointed out lettering in blue, which he said signifies that lives of police officers and everyone else matters as well.

From start to finish, the protest lasted about three hours.

In preparation for the protest, law enforcement from several local agencies had parked along I-135 as protesters prepared to move up on the interstate. Before the protest began to wind down and the group returned to McAdams Park, there were a couple encounters with the highway patrol troopers blocking their entrance onto I-135.

On a march back to 1-135 before heading east to the area of Grove Street, several protesters chanted, "Please Don't Shoot" as they approached the law enforcement blocking the ramp to the interstate. The group continued with chants of "Black Lives Matter. All Lives Matter," perhaps the most common phrasing of the night. There were also chants of "No Justice, No Peace." Emotions ran high for several who spoke with Eyewitness News about their purpose for joining the protest.

As of about 10 p.m. Tuesday, the KHP said the protest had gone on without incident and no arrests were reported.

A little after 9 p.m., Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay weighed in on the role of law enforcement Tuesday night in keeping the city safe while allowing the protesters to make themselves heard.

"Working to facilitate people's First Amendment Rights tonight," Ramsay tweeted.

Working to facilitate people's First Amendment rights tonight.

Posted by Police Chief Gordon Ramsay on Tuesday, July 12, 2016