On Kansas City’s new city manager Brian Platt’s first day this morning, protesters gathered at city hall demanding he be fired after it was revealed that he and eight Jersey City, New Jersey city officials were accused of racial discrimination in a lawsuit filed earlier this year.

“Kansas City already has too many racists,” the protesters said.

The hiring of Platt, former Jersey City business administrator and the only White candidate among the four finalist for the KCMO city manager’s position, was finalized last week. Mayor Quinton Lucas was the only Black member of the city council who voted in favor of Platt’s appointment. The councilmembers voting against Platt felt a person of color should be selected for the job.

The now dismissed lawsuit included 10 city employee plaintiffs who said the city discriminated against them based on race and age, and that they were illegally transferred or demoted as a part of the recreation department’s reorganization initiative, while many White employees were not.

One of the plaintiffs, Frank Gilmore, said on Twitter that Platt was part of systemic racism that targeted Black and brown workers causing them to lose their jobs, while their White counterparts received promotions. Of those transferred, Gilmore said all but one was Black. 

The plaintiffs claimed many of those who were transferred, had previously made complaints of racial discrimination within the department. The plaintiffs also claim that the reorganization would create a hostile work environment for African-American employees.

“Part of the people in this group have already made complaints about certain issues in this department based on race and other protected classes,” Desha Jackson, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, said to the Jersey Journal. “…They’re being moved because they expressed and did what they did. It is more about politics and suppressing them because they made these statements.”

The fact that Platt did not disclose the lawsuit during the hiring process rubbed Gloria Boehm, one of the protesters, the wrong way. “Nothing has been right about it,” said Boehm.

Councilwoman Melissa Robinson, while not accusing Platt of racism, wanted his appointment to be delayed until the lawsuit was fully vetted. She tweeted last week, “If Black Lives Matter in Kansas City, we should want to know what happened to the Black Lives in Jersey City. I will find out the facts. It will take me a week. I am committed to the protection of all workers and dismantling systemic racism within the City of Kansas City.”

In a letter from the Jersey City council, councilmembers said the racist accusations against Platt, who served as the city’s business administrator, were untrue.

“Brian has been a champion of the many diverse communities in Jersey City,” the letter said.  The councilmembers went on to cite Platt’s community supportive activities, including:  marching alongside Black Lives Matter protesters this year, enacting police reforms, including changes to use of force policies and initiatives in support of minority- and women-owned businesses.   

Robinson said she stands behind her statement and is looking further into the lawsuit.

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Jazzlyn Johnson

Jazzlyn "Jazzie” is the former senior reporter for our team, who joined the company in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, through the Report for America service program. For the past two years, she covered...

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