Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté isn’t bashful about speaking his mind, and he did so again Thursday at the Urban League of Greater Kansas City’s luncheon.
Forté picked up one of the annual “Difference Maker” awards, given for his leadership of the Police Department as its first black chief.
As he told the diverse Urban League crowd, Forté followed a lot of “middle-aged white males” in that role.
Then Forté talked about his philosophy as the Police Department handles protests in the aftermath of killings by white officers of unarmed black men in Ferguson and New York City.
He delivered this blunt message to protesters: “Keep marching, keep saying some things.”
He candidly added moments later: “I encourage people to march.”
That might seem odd coming from a big-city police chief, especially after looking at all the protest marches around the country that have shut down highways, shopping centers and other places.
But remember, so far at least, Kansas City has not had any violent protests or looting after the grand jury decisions that did not indict police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York City.
Marchers went through the Country Club Plaza, for instance, after the Brown ruling and there were very few incidents. At other times, Forté has praised people for following the direction of the police and staying on the sidewalk, out of traffic.
Forté said he didn’t want to cut off people’s rights to discuss these issues.
“We need to talk when there’s no controversy, or little controversy,” the chief said.
He’s right, of course.