In a major show of unity and solidarity, legacy Civil Rights organizations have united in coalition with young, Black-led abolitionists to reject Mayor Quinton Lucas’s complicity with police violence in Kansas City. Nearly a year after their initial demands were put to Mayor Lucas, not a single one has been met by the mayor.
They have penned an open letter to Mayor Lucas, Police Chief Rick Smith, and Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker rejecting performative politics, and demanding true substantial change.
“The black community in Kansas City voted for him, and he’s turned around and slaughtered us by not addressing our policing issues,” said Alexander Paul of Black Rainbow.
Originally formed last year to stand up against the Trump administration’s federal occupation of Kansas City, Operation Legend, the coalition bridges the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.-era civil rights leaders to new, bold abolitionist groups at the forefront of the movement for Black lives. Among others listed in the letter, their demands include:
DIVEST from KCPD by legislating a budget cut, whereas the total KCPD budget shall be reduced to 20% of the general fund as required by state law.
INVEST in a community-established People’s Budget by redirecting KCPD funding to resources such as housing, healthcare, sustainable infrastructure and education.
The full letter with all demands can be read below:
Dear Mayor Lucas, Police Chief Rick Smith, and Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker,
On April 21st 2021, Mayor Quinton Lucas along with Police Chief Rick Smith and the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office requested a meeting with leaders of the Kansas City community in anticipation of the upcoming verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. This invitation follows a year of organizers making clear demands to city/state officials, including Mayor Lucas, and being met with silence and false promises. This call for communal dialogue reminds us of last summer when you knelt with us in the afternoon and set a curfew to teargas us by the evening.
Tuesday, April 20th in a CNN interview, Mayor Lucas stated that he would be meeting with organizers in an effort to deter potential civil unrest in the aftermath of the Chauvin verdict, implying a collaborative relationship that is nonexistent on this issue. As is common with Mayor Lucas, his remarks on this issue were a gross misrepresentation of the facts. Since May 2020, Mayor Lucas has engaged in political posturing at the expense of members in our community who are most impacted by police violence. We will not be party to his political shenanigans. Therefore, we declined the invitation to attend a meeting regarding the Chauvin verdict, which was held Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
Our response to Mayor Lucas, Chief Rick Smith, and the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office is simple:
We will not take part in performative politics. We are justice seekers, not order keepers. State-sanctioned violence via the KCPD, a publicly funded institution, is being inflicted upon our community with impunity. The KCPD, under the leadership of Chief Rick Smith remains a racist institution, both systemically and structurally. Smith’s leadership fosters a white supremacist culture that breeds violence, engages in archaic over-policing, and blatantly disregards the humanity of Black people. We will not back down and we will not be silent amid such.
Furthermore, the recent reforms announced by KCPD are miniscule, ineffective, inadequate, and don’t produce structural change. Moreover, they do nothing to dismantle systemic racism in the execution of policies, practices and procedures.
If order is desired in society, justice is required. Justice is required on behalf of Terrance Bridges, Cameron Lamb, BB Hill, Ryan Stokes, Donnie Sanders, Deja Stallings, and numerous other victims of violence at the hands of KCPD.
We remain resolute in our demands:
● REMOVE Police Chief Rick Smith
● DIVEST from KCPD by legislating a budget cut, whereas the total KCPD budget shall be reduced to 20% of the general fund as required by state law.
● INVEST in a community-established People’s Budget by redirecting KCPD funding to resources such as housing, healthcare, sustainable infrastructure and education.
● DISMANTLE the Office of Community Complaints
● ESTABLISH an independent community-based and governed office of complaints
● CREATE foot-chase policy on non-violent allegations which protect and serve
● MANDATE the immediate suspension without pay for officers under criminal indictment
● CREATE a transformative/strategic reparations plan for the families of those who have been murdered by KCPD
● WITHHOLD pensions and don't rehire officers involved in excessive force
● REQUIRE officers to be liable for misconduct settlements
● CAP overtime accrual + OT pay for military exercises
● WITHDRAW participation in police militarization programs
● ESTABLISH open records ordinance ensuring that officers’ misconduct information and disciplinary histories are not shielded from the public
● APPOINT special prosecutor to investigate alleged police misconduct In solidarity with justice and peace,