By BECKY KISER
Hays Mayor Shaun Musil was full of praise Thursday night for Police Chief Don Scheibler in his handling of a public demonstration Sunday in support of an end to perceived nationwide police brutality and race inequality.
"Kudos to our chief," Musil said at the end of the city commission work session. Sandy Jacobs, vice-mayor, echoed her agreement.
Musil and Jacobs were at Sunday afternoon's demonstration, although it was "not by design," according to Musil.
More than 100 people gathered at the busy intersection of 27th and Vine Streets, chanting and holding signs of protest about police brutality in Minneapolis and throughout the country.
George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died May 25 in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed face down in the street.
The Hays protesters were mostly met with peace signs and honks of support from passing drivers as they stood peacefully lining both sides of 27th Street — while cities across the U.S., including Wichita and Topeka, grappled with looting and violence.
"Scheibler went out and talked to every single person out there," Musil said.
"He was more concerned about them being safe. They were really close to Vine. He asked them to move over onto the grass. And he stood there until they all got across the street."
The drivers and passengers in a handful of vehicles showed their opposition to the group, flying American and Blue Lives Matter flags, and hurling harsh words and derogatory hand gestures.
The phrase "All lives matter" was heard in reaction to chants of "Black lives matter" from the crowd.
"We had no issues in Hays," Musil said of the demonstration. Several local law enforcement officers were on the scene in addition to Scheibler.
Still, the mayor acknowledged there are underlying issues of racism in Hays.
"You talk to people behind the scenes and they have different opinions on the way things are.
"But it feels great being in a community like Hays and having someone like Scheibler in charge of our police force."
While talking to the chief, Musil said Scheibler told him "he preaches to his employees about not doing what we're seeing nationally.
"The good thing is we're not national. We're Hays, Kansas, and I'm very proud to be a part of this community.
"Just being around him and the way he represented us, we should all be very proud of him," Musil said to the other commissioners.