Gwen Grant, president of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, filed a motion to intervene in the ongoing “Budget Allocation” lawsuit between the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners (BOPC) and the city government.
What does a motion to intervene do? Traditionally lawsuits have two parties: a plaintiff (BOPC) and the defendant (City of KCMO government). When an individual/group/ or organization files a motion to intervene, they’re asking the court to be made an additional party to the lawsuit because they believe their own rights and interests may be impacted by the decision made in the case.
In this case, Grant is asking to enter the lawsuit as a typical Kansas City resident who will be impacted by the decision in this case.
POLICE VS CITY LAWSUIT RECAP
The BOPC filed the lawsuit naming the Mayor, city manager and city commissioners as plaintiffs, after they city council voted 9-4 last month to reallocate about $42 million of the Kansas City Police Department’s budget to violence prevention programming. The BOPC claimed the reallocation of funds violated Missouri law, since KCPD is control of the state-appointed BOPC.
Missouri law gives the five-member BOPC, not city council, oversight over KCPD. Four of the members are appointed by the governor and the fifth member is the mayor.
WHAT IS GRANT THINKING?
Grant said she filed the motion because the current policing structure does not represent the concerns of Kansas City taxpayers. She went on to call the current police/city relationship “taxation without representation,” which she says violates Missouri’s Hancock Amendment. She also said the current arrangement violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause, citing that most of the board members are White and unrepresentative of the city’s Black residents.
“Enough is enough,” Grant said. “Kansas Citians cannot be made to write a blank check to a board that does not answer to us, is unrepresentative of our needs and sues our elected officials when they don’t acquiesce to the board’s every demand.”
Mayor Quinton Lucas, who first introduced the ordinance reallocating funds with KCPD’s budget, said that Grant was correct that the current police structure violates the Hancock Amendment.
“The suit was filed by the board to maintain power in the hands of those without our community’s interests at heart. The board’s suit was filed to continue our blank-check practices without accountability at a time of rising crime. The board’s suit does not stand up for a single police officer in Kansas City, does not try to save a single life from violence in our city, and does not actually cure a budget concern. It merely pushes a status quo in public safety that has harmed our community for generations,” Lucas said in a statement.
Opponents of the changes in KCPD’s budget have painted the move as an effort to defund the police.
“This is not about defunding the police,” Grant said. “This is about the police being accountable to the city that they serve. This is about taxation without representation. This is about taking our fight to court to seek remedy after decades upon decades of injustice.”
The same day Grant announced her motion to intervene, BOPC Commissioner Nathan Garrett, a former state trooper, announced his resignation. Garrett was one of the most vocal critics of the proposed budget reallocation, but said his reason for resigning was because he was moving to Smithville, a Kansas City suburb.
“This department now finds itself at perhaps its most critical moment, and I ask for what I know you will give: focused and considered thought to my replacement,” Garrett wrote in a resignation letter to Gov. Mike Parson. “May it be one willing to act – informed and thoughtfully – without fear or favor and without regard for political winds or public criticism.”
Earlier this month, a Jackson County Circuit Judge gave the city’s attorneys until this week to respond to the police board’s lawsuit. In the meantime, the city was ordered to continue funding police operations at present spending levels.
A judge still has not ruled on Grant’s motion to intervene, which could take weeks. In the meantime, Grant and the Urban League of Greater Kansas City are taking donations for Grant’s legal team.
You can donate on their website: www.ulkc.org.