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Lazone Grays, a World War II veteran, waves to first responders, fellow veterans and community members in front of his home while sitting next to Marion Mahone on his 101st birthday on Thursday.

Dan Watkins, Manhattan Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1786 Commander, and Bill Padgett put Grays’ new American flag on the flagpole in front of his home.

Community members, first responders and veterans bow their heads as Pastor Lewis Smith Sr. leads everyone in prayer outside of Grays’ home.

Local pastors discuss racial injustice, Black Lives Matter movement

Pastor JahVelle Rhone is encouraging more than just a conversation on racial injustice; he wants to see action.

“It’s like important for us to recognize that God is not only calling us to have a conversation, but he is calling us to do,” Rhone said.

Rhone, associate pastor of the Manhattan Christian Fellowship Church, with his wife TeAndra, who is also an associate pastor at the church, joined pastors Josh Siders and Sarah Siders of The Well church on Thursday evening to have a conversation about racial reconciliation and racial injustice. Sheila Ellis-Glasper moderated the conversation.

Sarah and Josh spoke about their journey of learning about racial injustice and the Black Lives Matter movement.

“If we believe that all lives matter,” Josh said, “then can we say, ‘Black lives matter’? And this is really, to me, I think, the fact that we keep coming back to Black Lives Matter as a hashtag, as a movement, it is really pinning down to white America, ‘Can you agree with this?’”

The inequality and the violence African Americans face, Sarah said, is something God wants people to draw and focus their attention on to make change.

“Those three words (Black Lives Matter) have been resonating around our nation for almost a decade since Trayvon Martin’s murder, and I mean we’ve been dealing with racial injustice here in the United States for 400 years, right?” Sarah said. “And all of a sudden we have these three words... There’s a heart beat to it. And it’s starting to resound. It’s starting to make sense to people. We’re seeing people being able to see the difference between all lives matter and black lives matter.

“It is God himself who is saying, ‘Enough is enough.’”

TeAndra said she at first didn’t understand the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Even though I am African American, I did not quite understand it at the beginning,” TeAndra said. “And I believe, and I was thinking today, I believe it’s because I dealt with a lot of racism growing up after my parents moved out of the city to the suburbs. And so I became desensitized to a lot of racism, and I just kind of brushed off as this is the way life is.”

JahVelle talked about an incident when he, his wife — who was is girlfriend at the time — and his cousin and best friend, Bryon Williams, were on Fremont Street at 3 a.m.and the police pulled them over.

JahVelle said the police said he and his friend matched the exact description of people who had committed a robbery a couple blocks away. It was the day of his grandmother’s funeral, and JahVelle said he was wearing a white suit and Bryon was wearing a T-shirt and basketball shorts. The group was just returning to Manhattan from Kansas City.

TeAndra did not understand why the police pulled them over, JahVelle said.

“I’m just like, ‘Oh my gosh,’” JahVelle said. “You know, I’m thinking to myself, ‘She doesn’t know. Like she doesn’t get it. Like she doesn’t understand.’

“She didn’t understand what I understood in 1991 as a 4-year-old boy when my mom sat us down when Rodney King was beaten,” JahVelle said “... And so sitting down with my brothers and my parents sitting us down and saying, ‘If you’re pulled over by the police, if you experience this, make sure you do this, this and this.’”

The men stepped out of the car, stood on the sidewalk and the police officer received a call on the radio, returned to the car and later drove off, leaving them on Fremont in front of Bryon’s apartment, JahVelle said.

JahVelle said this happened about 15 years ago.

“I’m laughing now, but that moment was dramatic, and that moment was scary,” JahVelle said. “But it’s like, there are people who have stories like that.”

A police officer leads a parade of vehicles including Kansas American Legion Riders, first responders and community members to Grays’ home on Yuma Street.

KSU president, former Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Myers condemns Trump's protest crackdown

K-State president Richard Myers on Thursday evening issued a rare rebuke of U.S. president Donald Trump, saying he was saddened by the way law enforcement used force to clear protesters for Trump to make a public appearance Monday.

Speaking on CNN with anchor Erin Burnett, Myers, a retired four-star general and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it was “not right” that federal agents broke apart a peaceful protest around Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., on Monday evening.

After speaking from the White House and declaring that he would take action to stop “professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, antifa, and others” who are protesting George Floyd’s death and police brutality, Trump then walked to the square and stood in front St. John’s Episcopal Church and held up a bible, in which critics have called an unnecessary photo op.

Myers, who served as chairman under president George W. Bush, said he was saddened by the action.

“The first thing was absolute sadness that people are not allowed to protest, and as I understand it, that was a peaceful protest that was disturbed by force,” he said on national television. “That’s not right. That should not happen in America, and so I was sad. I mean, we should all shed tears over that particular act.”

Since becoming K-State president in 2016, Myers has rarely commented on national or political matters. He joins several other high-ranking former military officials — including Gen. John Mattis, who resigned as Trump’s Secretary of Defense after disagreeing with the president’s Syria policy — in criticizing Trump’s actions in response to national protests.

“The other thing I thought, and this is probably very selfish, I said, I’m glad I don’t have to advise this president,” Myers said.

Myers promises response to #BlackAtKState student grievances, but details scant on action

After a social media movement in which black K-State students and alumni detailed discrimination and racism at the university, president Richard Myers on Friday morning vowed to lead action to end racism at K-State. But he offered few details on what that plan might include.

Following the lead of several other colleges in responding to the current Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests, the K-State Black Student Union on Wednesday put out a call on social media for students and alumni to share their experiences with racism and discrimination while at the university using the hashtag #BlackAtKState.

The BSU’s post inspired hundreds of other posts from several members of the black K-State community, alleging that university staffers were either indifferent toward reports of racism or went out of their way to ignore alleged discrimination on campus. Other posts detailed discriminatory experiences with roommates, residential assistants or police.

Some of the posts specifically called out university leaders like Myers and chief diversity and inclusion officer Bryan Samuel, who allegedly told students they should be used to racism on campus.

In a statement shared Thursday evening, BSU president Cara Bruce defended Samuel, saying it is difficult to bring about necessary change while operating with limited institutional resources and support from other administrators. But she said that for black students, “tired of being tired is an understatement.”

“To be Black at K-State means to be the underdog that is consistently undermined but always comes out on top,” she wrote in the statement. “To be Black at K-State means that we have to work twice as hard just to be considered as the same level as our peers. To be Black at K-State means taking on the responsibility and burden of fighting to make K-State better for the next generation of Black students who come after us.”

In response, Myers said he and other administrators are listening closely to the students’ complaints and concerns, and he promised to take action. He said K-State will take steps to end racism at K-State, although he did not detail what those steps might be.

“I am listening and I hear you and acknowledge these experiences were hurtful and painful,” Myers said in the Friday video. “I appreciate your willingness to be candid and to share your experiences through #BlackAtKState. Everyone has a personal responsibility, in my view, to end racism. I promise to continue university efforts to provide a place where differences are celebrated and inclusion is valued. We will use these posts to prepare action steps to end racism at K-State.”