KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) — Every Friday night for the past year, a group of people protest downtown. They started after the murder of George Floyd, but the group — Friday Night Protest — wanted to put a spotlight on local people 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, there was something else happened that night that is pulling attention from the protests’ purpose and images are gaining traction on social media platforms.
A coffin draped in an American flag and covered in caution tape was delivered to the steps of the police department. Police say it’s clear what was inside: a pig, dressed in a police uniform. “THE OTHER WHITE MEAT” was written on the bottom. Some within the protest group call it art. But, Kansas City’s mayor and the president of the police union say it crosses the line.
There is also disagreement on coverage of the coffin. Protestors claim the media is using the coffin as a distraction away from the real issue of police misconduct.
Leaders of the community group Friday Night Protest declined an on-camera interview, but said in a statement:
We held a memorial march downtown, with people’s righteous anger, grief, and celebratory joy in full, non-violent display.
Instead of focusing on the 150 victims and the families that were present to tell their stories, attention is now being directed at an art piece included next to all the pictures and names of the victims.
That art piece was a hand-constructed coffin entitled, “Death to White Supremacy” created by a local Black artist who has had their own experience with police violence.
But, the president of the police union believes the action was sickening.
“For most right-thinking people, they will look at it as a threat,” said Brad Lemon. “How can we not?”
He thinks the media didn’t give it enough attention.
The coffin controversy comes at a raw time for the Kansas City Police Department. The coffin was displayed at headquarters on Friday. On Sunday, an officer died from COVID-19.
In the statement from Friday Night Protest, they say, “The art piece depicting the death of white supremacy is just that— valid art and expression of real Black anger.”
We asked Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas about the controversy.
“Nobody wants to see anybody dead and when you have a coffin display and a police officer depicted within in it . . . that is a disgusting display that has no part in any of our conversations in Kansas City,” said Mayor Lucas.
Lucas said, “I think those who used that display set back their cause back. I think they set back conversations we are trying to have about the future of policing in Kansas City. I would hope — I would expect — that we never see any display like that again.”
The leader of Friday Night Protest said the mayor needs to weigh in on the deaths of unarmed Black and brown people and not be so concerned about a piece of artwork.
It’s unclear if the coffin will continue to be used as an artistic expression and included in future protests.
KCTV5.com is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, StormTrack5 weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from KCTV5 News.
Copyright 2021 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.