Protests have been peaceful in Wichita, but disturbances have occurred after gatherings Sunday and last night.
Emergency teams responded at about 4 a.m. last night to a two-alarm fire at the Petroleum Building at Broadway and English in downtown Wichita. The fire was brought under control is being investigated. It is unknown yet whether it is connected to any looting. On June 4, it was determined to be arson.
Around 11 p.m. on the edge of downtown, the large front windows at Exploration Place were shot out.
Then around midnight, a group of people broke into the Quik Trip gas station at 21st St. North and Arkansas, and looted the store, which was closed. Many area Quik Trips had closed overnight on the advice of police. Also broken into at the intersection were a BoostMobile and O’Reilly Autoparts.
The 21st St. and Arkansas neighborhood is largely Hispanic, and it isn’t yet known why it would be targeted.
Police were already posted at larger retail store and mall locations in the city to deter criminal activity.
“Wichita police responded and shut down the area. Some onlookers were initially allowed to stay in the area as police worked to disperse the crowd at Quik Trip. In one video posted online, you can hear people yelling at the looters to stop. Law enforcement used teargas or some chemical irritant being deployed on the crowd. By 1 a.m. the crowd had dispersed.
Law enforcement responded to multiple locations around the city into the early morning hours but there did not appear to be large crowds or widespread unrest. Officers could be seen blocking entrances to shopping centers in the area of 21st and Rock. Multiple crews blocked the entrances to the Towne East mall. Many Quik Trips around the city were closed, some with patrol cars stationed at the area.
“Tuesday evening started with a peaceful protest at 21st Street and Maize. People gathered on the corners carrying Black Lives Matter signs protesting the death of George Floyd. Others at the rally handed out flowers to people who gathered. Multiple demonstrations since last weekend have been peaceful and well attended.
“Law enforcement was present throughout the evening. Police dispersed the crowd late in the evening, declaring it an unlawful assembly, as tensions began to rise, but no obvious business damage or widespread violence was seen. Most businesses in New Market Square area closed early, hearing that protests could be held in the area.
“Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said earlier Tuesday that police were ready to respond, and had been fired on [late Monday] at 21st and Arkansas, releasing body footage of the incident late Tuesday. He said the department supports peaceful protests but needed to step in to prevent further escalation.”