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Kansas City Kids Marching In Black Lives Matter Protests Have A Message: ‘We Deserve A Chance’

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Aviva Okeson-Haberman
Brothers Isaiah and Jeremiah Wotruba led protesters in chants at a protest Sunday, August 2, 2020.

Organizers of Sunday’s Brookside Black Lives Matter Brigade are continuing calls for Kansas City Chief Rick Smith to step down and the ending of Operation Legend.

On a warm Sunday afternoon, 12-year-old Isaiah Wotruba and his younger brother, Jeremiah, walked down 63rd street near Brookside, leading a group of around 100 protesters in a chant.

“Show me what community looks like,” Isaiah says into a megaphone.

“This is what community looks like,” the crowd responds.

The two brothers were among more than a dozen kids who marched as part of Sunday’s Brookside Black Lives Matter Brigade. Organizer Stacy Shaw told the crowd at the start of the demonstration that protests aren’t just about “surviving police brutality.” They’re also about making sure Black children have the same opportunities as white kids, Shaw said.

Ten-year-old Jeremiah Wotruba said his message to adults is that “we deserve a chance.”

“As kids we see Black people dying and we know that we could grow up and die because of the color of our skin,” Wotruba said. “And we don’t want this to happen anymore.”

Aviva Okeson-Haberman
Henry White wears a mask dotted with dinosaurs at a Sunday, August 2, 2020 protest.

Wotruba said he’s protesting the death of George Floyd and Donnie Sanders who was fatally shot by a Kansas City police officer in March.

Nine-year-old Henry White, who wore a face mask dotted with dinosaurs, also mentioned the killing of Sanders and Floyd. He said he’s been learning a lot from listening to speeches at the rallies.

“I just like to listen and hear all of the things that are happening so I can be updated and help people,” White said.

For protester Bukeka Blakemore seeing the number of young people who are participating is “amazing.” She wants them to know they’re part of a “monumental time.” Blakemore said her parents started taking her to protests when she was three.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman
Bukekea Blakemore leads protesters in a song Sunday, August 2, 2020.

“I was told by my parents that my first words were ‘Black power,’” Blakemore said. “We would go to marches, and I'd have my fist up and say that.”

Organizers at Sunday’s event are calling for Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith to resign, the end of a federal surge of agents in Kansas City as part of Operation Legend, and the requirement that police officers display their name and badge at all times. Event organizer Rev. Randy Fikki, a minister at Unity Southeast in Kansas City, said part of the message is coming “together in unity and love and peace.”

“Black Lives Matter protesters are not here for the moment, they’re here for the movement and you can’t stop the revolution,” Isaiah Wotruba said.

Younger brother, Jeremiah, shares a similar sentiment, saying “we're going to keep protesting until we get justice.”

“I love doing chants. I love leading the crowd,” Jeremiah said. “But, also, I hate being here because we should not have to come back here as we grow up and get older. My parents say our kids deserve a chance. And we actually do.”

Aviva Okeson-Haberman was the Missouri government and politics reporter at KCUR 89.3.
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