On a chilly Sunday night members of the Kansas City community gathered in Swope Park. The event, hosted by abolitionist group Black Rainbow, was a vigil for Daunte Wright and Dominique Lucious, as well as all victims of police violence. Throughout the night members of various organizations spoke about their experiences with the police, their fears and their hopes for the future. Black Rainbow also collected money for the family of Dominique Lucious.
“We actually considered a few other local parks, but Swope Park was one of the ideal parks because of the familiarity of it in the Kansas City community, it’s essential space here,” said Amaia Cook, and organizer with Black Rainbow. “A lot of people who have grown up here like myself, know it as a really recognizable name, and so we believe that by planning this vigil at Swope Park, a lot of people from the community would know what it is, and also be easily able to access it.”
The event began at 7 p.m., the group of about 200 audience members gathered under the park’s bandstand. As members of the community filed in, they were handed candles for later in the evening. After everyone arrived, the vigil began with a speech by Reverend Vernon Howard Jr., the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City. Throughout his speech Howard encouraged the audience to join him.
“I’ve heard it said ‘Give up. Stop protesting. Go Home. Be Quiet,’” Howard said. “Somebody shout never.”
The crowd responded, “Never!”
Howard advocated for continued protests until Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith removed his position, the 8 Can’t Wait reforms are passed in Kansas City and until there is widespread justice for every person in the city. Howard was followed by community members Melissa Ferrer, Kamryn Henderson and Sundiata Moon. Intermediately after, Black Rainbow organizer Ray Bilis led to crowd in chants. Amaia Cook then took the stage.
“We are here today for the same and different reasons,” Cook said. “Some of the lives we honor today may come by on national coverage; other lives we honor today may not be known to anyone. They may be names we keep locked within our hearts, keep within our family circles. To all those lives, we respect their names, their stories and their legacies, and we acknowledge that their lives were taken from us too soon.”
After Cook finished, she invited any audience members who wanted to speak to take the microphone. Nine people addressed the crowd in total. Activist Keji Akinmoladun then led the group in prayer. It was at that point organizers began to light the candles, and after brief performances by Kyla Revels and Labryana Norals, a moment of silence was observed for all those in remembrance. A few more community members spoke, and Ray Bilis closed out the night.
“I want to encourage everyone to get involved,” Bilis said. “I think coming to the vigil is very important and I appreciate you all coming here, but more importantly I want you to get involved and see this as a movement of sustainability…”
You can find out more about Black Rainbow on their Facebook page
For more about this event, check out The Sound of a Vigil video.