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George Floyd's Death Draws 1,000 Protesters to Small but Diverse City in Western Kansas

A man holds an American flag at Garden City's unity rally on Wednesday night.  (Photo by Corinne Boyer, Kansas News Service)

by Corinne Boyer 

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — A unity rally put together by an incoming Garden City High School senior drew more than 1,000 people to downtown Garden City on Wednesday night.

Carmen Robinson said she had the support of the Garden City Police Department for the rally, which was held in a park that filled up with hundreds before the event even started. 

"This is awesome," she said. "This is change."

Garden City, which has a population of about 26,000 in a county whose total is about 36,000, joined countless cities across the United States and the world in protesting racism and police violence, including Wichita, Topeka and Lawrence.

The protests have been spurred by the recent deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, who was killed when a police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes, as well as the death of Louisville, Kentucky, EMS worker Breonna Taylor, who was shot in her home by police.

"I have a 6-year-old black nephew who loves police officers," Robinson told the crowd in Garden City. "And as he grows, I don't want him to be seen as a threat — or any black lives at that."

All types of people — families, students and children — marched around the park. Traffic slowed on Main Street as demonstrators shouted, "I can't breathe," "Black Lives Matter" and George Floyd's name.

The Garden City Police Department thanked the speakers and participants for attending.

"The Garden City Police Department listened to the messages delivered last night," it said in a statement Thursday, "and will continue to work with the community to maintain a growing, positive relationship." 

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Corinne Boyer covers western Kansas for High Plains Public Radio and the Kansas News Service. You can follow her on Twitter @corinne_boyer.

The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of Kansas Public Radio, KCUR, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.

Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org
 

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