KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – Every Friday night last year, a group of people demonstrate in the downtown area. They started after the murder of George Floyd, but the group – Friday Night Protest – wanted to spotlight the locals killed by police.
Last Friday night was special. The group wanted to do something to commemorate the anniversary with special guests and speakers, including family members of those killed by police.
But, something else happened that night that called attention to the purpose of the protests and the images are gaining traction on social media platforms.
A coffin draped in an American flag and covered with warning tape was delivered to the steps of the police department. Police say what was inside is clear: a pig, dressed in a police uniform. “THE OTHER WHITE MEAT” was written at the bottom. Some within the protest group call it art. But, the mayor of Kansas City and the chairman of the police union say it is crossing the line.
There is also disagreement over the cover of the coffin. Protesters say the media is using the coffin to distract from the real issue of police misconduct.
Leaders of community group Friday Night Protest declined an on-camera interview, but said in a statement:
We held a commemorative march downtown, with the righteous anger, sorrow and celebratory joy of people in the midst of a nonviolent demonstration.
Instead of focusing on the 150 victims and the families who were there to tell their stories, attention is now shifted to a piece of art included alongside all of the photos and names of the victims.
This artwork was a hand-built casket titled “Death to White Supremacy” created by a local black artist who had his own experience of police violence.
Click here to read the full statement on Facebook.
But, the president of the police union considers that the action was disgusting.
“For most right-thinking people, they’ll see him as a threat,” said Brad Lemon. “How can we not? “
He thinks the media haven’t paid enough attention to it.
The casket controversy comes at a difficult time for the Kansas City Police Department. The coffin was on display at headquarters on Friday. On Sunday, an officer died from COVID-19.
In the Friday Night Protest statement, they say, “The artwork depicting the death of white supremacy is just that – valid art and the expression of genuine black anger.”
We asked Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas about the controversy.
“No one wants to see someone dead and when you have a coffin and a policeman pictured inside. . . it’s a disgusting display that has no part in our conversations in Kansas City, ”said Mayor Lucas.
Lucas said, “I think those who have used this display have backed down their cause. I think they’ve set back the conversations we’re trying to have about the future of policing in Kansas City. I hope – I would expect we would never see such a display again. “
The Friday Night Protest frontman said the mayor needs to weigh in on the deaths of unarmed black and brown people and not care so much about a work of art.
It is not known whether the coffin will continue to be used as artistic expression and included in future events.
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