As part of our work marking how the 2020 murder of George Floyd has affected Kansas Citians, I wanted to speak to someone that was part of the group front and center in the subsequent protests.
I recently sat down with Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department Capt. Jeffrey Hughley and Major Joel Lovelady to get their perspectives on Floyd’s murder, the protests that followed, and the work that is still to come.
Dia Wall: What stood out to you from those moments?
Jeffrey Hughley: I would say the emotion; just the tenacity of the protesters. Like, “No, we want change. We demand change.”
Wall: What is the feeing for you when you see some of the videos that a lot of these young people are seeing?
Hughley: It’s kind of what we’re all taught as a child very young: What’s right is right, what’s wrong is wrong, and whatever side that you’re on or the profession doesn’t excuse that.
Wall: Talk to me a little bit about how you approach when things do start getting a little bit heated? When things start getting thrown?
Joel Lovelady: This one was a little bit different in the fact that, for more most part, this was, for Kansas City, one of the first times that we were the target of the frustration. We were getting rocks, bottles and cans of beans thrown at us. That was a long day. We kind of disengaged — if we don’t have to be there, let’s not be there.
Wall: Did you feel that backing up a little bit helped?
Lovelady: I think at times, absolutely it did help. Everyone that was there was exercising their First Amendment rights, expressing their frustration, voicing their opinion. Whatever it was that brought them there, you can’t necessarily lump all those people with the ones who were doing violence.
Wall: Does it affect you at all that there are some people who would say they’re afraid of police?
Lovelady: It’s not something you want to hear when you’re the guardian of the public or one of the guardians of the public or entrusted with the preservation of life and property. It’s concerning when you hear that.
Wall: When you hear the phrase Black Lives Matter, what does that mean to you?
Hughley: That means in this uniform, out of this uniform, my life matters. Your life matters as a Black individual. I don’t see it as a matter more, matter less, just that we matter.
Wall: If you could tell the people who were out here protesting and calling for change, what one thing would it be?
Hughley: We hear you. We are definitely here for you. You have more allies than you think you have. Keep doing what you’re doing.
This story is part of 9:29 — The Minutes That Moved Kansas City, a KCUR 89.3 and 41 Action News collaboration about the legacy of George Floyd.