After he spontaneously joined a handful of protesters on the Square last Wednesday evening in the wake of George Floyd’s death, Zac McLaughlin said, he felt called to do something more.
McLaughlin, a Truman High School and Graceland University alum who is the dean of the Community of Christ Seminary, put up a social media notice that he would be at the U.N. Peace Plaza in Independence Sunday afternoon for a peaceful rally.
“We’re not opening our doors for services until after June, but I knew that Zac the disciple of Jesus could do something on my own,” McLaughlin said.
Darron Story and Jenny Jackson of Kansas City joined McLaughlin to speak at Sunday’s protest, which drew about 300 people and concluded at the Truman Courthouse several blocks away on the Independence Square.
In addition to the Independence protest, Blue Springs citizens have conducted some protests recently along Missouri 7.
Story and Jackson spoke at the Peace Plaza next to the Community of Christ Auditorium on Walnut Avenue. Protesters then walked a few blocks east to the lawn of the Truman Courthous, where they took a knee in silence for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, representing the time Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck during the fatal May 25 arrest.
Story, who then gave a final call to action, said his message was about building awareness and solidarity.
“We live in such interesting times, and I hear from my white brothers and sisters, ‘How do I engage? What can I do?” Story said. “Part of that engagement is starting with your own circle of friends, start those conversations and find some place to plug in.”
McLaughlin said the Peace Plaza was appropriate in a city of rich history such as Independence, as it’s next to the auditorium, where a couple months into his presidency Harry Truman in 1945 said the United States had signed the U.N. Treaty. He said he simply gave a greeting and let Story and Jackson speak.
“It’s not my place to speak; it’s my place to listen,” McLaughlin said.
Story said he was encouraged by Sunday’s showing.
“It was a very loving event and very peaceful,” he said. “I want to continue that tone, but that doesn’t it won’t be hard. It was a great turnout and great energy.”