A wave “Black Lives Matter” protests have broken out across the United States following George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. On Saturday, citizens of Manhattan gathered in Triangle Park to protest the injustice and have their voices heard.
JahVelle Rhone, a pastor in the community, and Trumanue Lindsey Jr., director of diversity and multicultural student life at Kansas State, teamed up to organize the protest.
“Speaking as a member of the community, I’ve been a little bit disappointed. It’s encouraging today to see people here, but I’ve been a little bit disappointed just because it’s been quiet,” Lindsey said. “I’m not expecting people to be out rioting and things like that, but it’s been a little bit too quiet.”
Once the plan was in motion for the protest to take place today, Lindsey reached out to Dennis Butler, director of Riley County Police department, to let the local authorities know that the protest was going to take place. In other cities, police and protesters have clashed.
“Right away, [Butler] was very supportive and able to say ‘OK, what do you need from us,’ and that’s really what it should be all about,” Lindsey said. “It seems a little counterintuitive to have a protest against police brutality and injustice and work with the police to do that, but that’s on them if they’re willing to support us and help us get a message across about what their colleagues are doing around the nation, that’s on them. I just wanted to make sure that the people that are here are able to be safe.”
Tyrone Townsend, one of the RCPD officers on-site helping keep protesters safe, was able to participate in the demonstration as well.
“I felt like people were supportive. People were validating. People listened,” Townsend said. “Today was one of the days where we had an opportunity to do more. Providing traffic control was one thing … we decided it was okay for me to actually participate in the peaceful protest. It showed our sense of community, but especially myself, as an African American and a police officer, I wanted to show that I understand that black lives do matter, because my life matters. We’re human. We care as much as everyone else, and you show that by action, by being there.”
In an effort to relieve some unrest in the Riley County community, Butler released an open letter to the community on May 29 on behalf of the entire Riley County Police Department.
— RCPD (@RileyCountyPD) May 29, 2020
“I do believe that it is reasonable for people; especially minority citizens, to wonder if this could happen here in Riley County, or if they should trust members of the Riley County Police Department to not abuse their authority in a similar fashion,” Butler wrote in the letter. “It is easy for me to say that you should trust us, but what really matters most is what we do every day in our service to you.”
Another peaceful protest is scheduled in Triangle Part on Tuesday evening Triangle Park.