Area residents announced plans for a peaceful demonstration at 4:30 p.m. today, June 2, starting at the band shell in the Barton County Courthouse Square.
Twenty-year-old Desa Cline said she and a few friends from her generation are hosting this event in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Cline posted the event “Peaceful Protest: United We Stand” on Facebook with the message:
“Hello wonderful people of Great Bend. A few citizens and I will be hosting a peaceful demonstration in support of the black lives matter movement! And (we) urge you to come if you are in support, and have positive words to say! We will not condone any violence or negativity!! Our goal is to open the conversation, and better our community with this movement! Everyone is welcome!! With that being said please don’t show up if you have any interest in hurting us, or disrespecting the police! Stay Positive, Stay Calm, and I hope to see you there!!”
Police Chief David Bailey said he was aware of the planned gathering because he was at the City Office when someone came in to fill out paperwork for a gathering on city property. He said he was told approximately 27 young people are planning the event.
The Great Bend Tribune spoke to Cline earlier today and asked about the purpose of this event.
“It’s to protest the deaths of millions of unarmed black men who have been shot and killed. It’s to stand in solidarity,” she said.
Other Black Lives Matter demonstrations have occurred throughout Kansas and the nation in the past week, prompted by the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minnesota. Some demonstrations have been peaceful while others have erupted in violence.
Cline stressed that the local group is peaceful and she also spoke highly of the Great Bend Police Department.
“GBPD is amazing,” she said. “And I don’t think anything like this would ever happen here.
“This isn’t to make anybody angry,” she said. “We want to show our community that we care.”
They also want fellow Americans – including those in a small town like Great Bend, to do better. She said she’d like to see an end to some negativity.
“Great Bend is a very conservative town,” Cline said. “I want something good to happen for our community. ... If we can all sit together and just talk together – share stories – we’ll be a stronger community.”
She expressed concern about the possibility of violence. “We’ve had a lot of people threaten to hurt us,” she said. If there is violence, “it won’t be my group.” Organizers have asked anyone who wants to start trouble to stay home.