A Washington, D.C. chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement said on Twitter that a community event held in Wichita, Kansas with the Wichita Police Department — which brought police and citizens together to cook, eat, dance, and talk — was “not in line with [their] principles.”
— BlackLivesMatter DC (@DMVBlackLives) July 20, 2016
KSNW, the NBC affiliate station covering the area, said that the event, which was hosted by the Sunflower Community Action group, wasn’t just a lighthearted celebration — it was a way for the community to reach out to its police department to discuss issues surrounding police-community relations. The Wichita Eagle reported that “At one table, three men – a black man, a Hispanic man and a white man – sat down with burgers next to Lt. Travis Rakestraw to share their ideas.”
However, several videos from the cookout showing the open and celebratory atmosphere at the event went viral on Facebook, including one of an officer dancing in the park along with community residents.
The Washington chapter later noted via Twitter that “Our statement about BLM BBQ’s with police was a direct response to the tons of people and orgs who were upset by the event,” and continued to say that they “assured folks our principles were still focused on dismantling the system.” They also re-tweeted a comment from this user:
To end police brutality you have to end the police.
— Brotha B (@BlakeDontCrack) July 22, 2016