KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – For a year, a group of people who want to see a change in policing have gathered outside Kansas City Police Headquarters on Friday nights holding signs with the names of local residents killed by police.
It started one week after George Floyd’s death. They were among hundreds protesting on Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza. They wanted a local emphasis, local demands and a place to honor local people who died. They wanted to take their message directly to police. Their first Friday Night Protest had five people. Attendance has ebbed and flowed but the original five continued every Friday.
This Friday, they commemorated one year and invited local families whose loved ones had been killed to join them.
“The word that comes to mind is resilience,” said Rev. Nia Chandler.
As they marched south from 12th and Oak, to snake around to the KCPD headquarters, they stopped by the Power and Light entertainment district.
“Right in that parking lot is where Ryan Stokes got killed,” one of the speakers announced on a megaphone.
Stokes was killed in 2013 at the age of 24. His mother spoke to the crowd once they arrived at the steps of police headquarters.
“I go view him and he was shot in the back. How do they call that justifiable when you shoot a man in the back and he don’t have a gun?” Narene Stokes asked
They carried photos and signs with the names of people they’re honoring.
Ryan Stokes was one. Another was Donnie Sanders, killed in 2020.
“Just by him running, does that give you the right to kill him?” his sister Yolanda Sanders asked.
Another family who spoke was that family of Cameron Lamb, killed by police in 2019.
“It’s been really hard for our family,” his older sister, Shelice Sheppard said through tears.
“The police got all this time to get their stories straight,” another older sister of his, Vanessa Gray said.
“They just want us to be silent!” Stokes said to the crowd.
They raised their voices, 100 to 200 people strong, then took a knee as one of the Friday Night Protests original five, Steve Young, read off names of people killed by police in Kansas City.
For the families who lost loved ones, seeing others who’ve been through what they have brought both comfort and sadness.
“It makes me feel good to know that the community is behind us,” said Sanders. “It also makes me sad because a lot of families are out here because of this.”