Local youth, police come together for Unity Day

Mark Rountree
The Leavenworth Times
A member of the youth team drives to the basket in a basketball game on Unity Day on Saturday at Bob Dougherty Park in Leavenworth.

“Where there is unity, there is peace. Where there is division, there is war.”

Those are the words of Jermaine Wilson, founder of the Unity in the Community Movement, which hosted its third Unity Day event Saturday at Bob Dougherty Park in Leavenworth.

The event featured a basketball game between local youth and Leavenworth Police Department officers.

Saturday’s event was entirely free. It included a barbecue chicken meal, music and other activities. The organization paid approximately $2,000 to host the event, Wilson said. 

“This day is to promote peace, love and equality for all mankind,” Wilson said.

Tamara Noell grills barbecue chicken for the event. The free meal was part of the Unity Day festivities.

The Unity in the Community Movement began in 2015 as a way to “promote unity in the community,” Wilson said.

“When we first started this, there was so much division in our society. We just felt the need to create change,” he said. “And that change starts at home, right here in Leavenworth. … People find out that we have more in common than not.”

Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens said the officers enjoy the event each year.

“For us, a big part of what we do is on the doctrine of engaging with the community,” said Kitchens. “And that’s no matter what it is. This is a great opportunity for our young officers to get out and engage in the community. We have one (officer) that worked the midnight shift (on Friday) and they came out today. That’s how important it is to them.”

DJ Mile High works the sound system during the event. He also served as the on-court announcer for the basketball game.

Several local officials attended the event. Leavenworth City Manager Paul Kramer even played in the event for the police team.

“Leavenworth generally is a very united community,” said Leavenworth City Commission member Mike Griswold. “Unity in the Community and Jermaine do a fantastic job putting this event on.”

The players from the youth team appeared to be having fun playing the game and interacting with the police officers.

“It’s fun. We like playing against the cops,” said Jermaine Wilson Jr. “We like this whole event.”

The youth ended up beating the police 38-35, but the final score was irrelevant.

As a member of the crowd said, “The community wins.”