KC activists slam Lucas, demand resignation of police chief

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Coalition of area civil rights groups accuses Mayor Quinton Lucas of ‘political positions’ and ‘false promises’ as they seek major Kansas City Police Department reforms, including dismissal of Chief Rick Smith.

An open letter publicly shared by the coalition Thursday afternoon renewed calls for Smith’s dismissal, criticizing Lucas for “silence and false promises” as local leaders held recent meetings with activists regarding police reform.

The letter was aimed specifically at Lucas, referencing a recent CNN interview in which the mayor was accused of grossly misrepresenting “the facts” surrounding the state of relations between activists and city institutions.

“This call for community dialogue reminds us of last summer when you knelt with us in the afternoon and then put a curfew to gas us at night,” the letter says, adding that Lucas “s’ is engaged in taking political positions at the expense of members in our community who are most affected by police violence.

The mayor sent the letter to an independent press conference on Thursday, calling the affair “unfortunate”. He also questioned the intent of the letter.

“There are some who are interested in a war of words, especially the Black against Black war of words,” said the mayor. “When I was a city councilor, I determined years ago that this was not the kind of thing I’m here to get involved in.”

“I am here to embark on a substantial, long-term policy change on how we can build trust between the police and the community in Kansas City,” the mayor added. “We have a lot of work to do.”

Lucas also defended his record as mayor on the subject of police reform, saying he has sought to influence Jefferson City policy, among other actions, as the Kansas City Police Department remains heavily controlled by state legislators.

The letter was co-signed by several organizations, some of which have both a national and local presence, including the NAACP, the Urban League of Kansas City, the National Black United Front and Black Rainbow. It was addressed to Lucas, Smith and Jackson County District Attorney Jean Peters Baker.

Among the broader calls for police reform raised by the coalition on Thursday included significant cuts in departmental spending, the creation of an independent community-based complaints office, and the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the complaints. allegations of police misconduct.

Civil rights leaders and activists in the region began calling on Smith to step down in June 2020, citing a lack of confidence in the chief’s handling of the fatal police shootings of black men and allegations of excessive use of black men. force by members of his department.

In a statement, KCPD spokesperson Sgt. Jake Becchina said the chef has no plans to step down.

“We look forward to discussions with any group that wishes to come to the table,” Becchina said. “We are proud of the reforms we have undertaken and look forward to further progress. “

Earlier this week, KCPD highlighted a list of reforms undertaken over the past year as public pressure continues to escalate nationwide over the high-profile murders of black Americans in dating with the police.

On that list were new guidelines for the conduct of officers during protests – a change in policy after five officers were criminally charged with summer protests in the Plaza – and fitting patrol officers with body cameras.

Meanwhile, civil rights groups criticizing local leaders on Thursday said the KCPD’s reforms were “tiny, ineffective, inadequate” and did not promote the deeper changes desired by the community as a whole.

Kansas City Star Stories

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