KANSAS CITY, MO – A historic coalition of Black-led community organizations published a scathing open letter “indicting” Mayor Quinton Lucas for “siding with KCPD over Black people.”
Last week, Mayor Lucas led the charge to pass an ordinance that gave $33 Million solely to KCPD, ignoring calls from the Black community to instead make the funds available to community organizations which might address mental health, housing, and other necessary resources.
The coalition of organizations signed onto the letter include the Urban League of Kansas City, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Operation Liberation KC, Reale Justice Network, the National Black United Front, and Sunrise Movement Kansas City.
**UPDATE/ CLARIFICATION (APRIL 16, 2022)** Sunrise Movement KC is not a Black-led organization, but signed onto the letter in solidarity with the coalition of Black orgs.
Read the letter in its entirety below;
Dear Mayor Quinton Lucas and affiliated parties,
By moving forward with this violent ordinance, you have demonstrated your allegiance to a racist and corrupt police department.
The same police department whose Chief called Cameron Lamb a “bad guy” and said every officer on his force would have murdered Cameron too. The same police department that has received over $1 billion dollars over the past 6 years, only for Kansas City to be the 8th most deadly city last year. The same department that was ranked Top 5 Worst Police departments in the country last year.
From 2012 to 2018, KCPD’s budget grew an absurd 28% (an increase of over $50 million) while the violent crime rate rose 47%. It is clear: increasing an already bloated police budget does not reduce crime.
Under your watch, KCPD continues to criminalize poverty, addiction, and illness instead of creating resources to help those suffering. We spend millions policing and incarcerating the most vulnerable members of our community instead of investing in treatment or housing. Meanwhile, police officers overwhelmingly patrol our city’s poorest neighborhoods, targeting and abusing already marginalized, primarily Black and brown people.
Rather than hold them accountable, you gave them a raise and a blank check.
Amidst our city’s vicious housing crisis, the ongoing pandemic, a food shortage in public schools, and horrifically underfunded mental health services, you have chosen to turn away from the People who elected you, and specifically away from the Black community – to instead side with a department that is not only already overfunded, but lies about how it spends our tax dollars.
You have ignored us, you have lied to us, and now you have betrayed us.
We, the civil rights leaders and community organizers who are closest to the problems in our community, have pleaded with you and told you how we best believe public safety to be achieved. Rather than listen and act on our wisdom and recommendations, you act as a lone authoritarian accountable to no one.
We acknowledge that interpersonal violence is a real threat to the safety of Kansas City, but more “blank check” police funding will only reinforce the system that has already caused us so much harm. More police funding will not prevent harm. More police funding will increase their capacity to criminalize, terrorize and destroy our most vulnerable communities. Whether local or federal, we do not need more policing. We need health care. We need housing. We need jobs. We need justice.
Your actions indicate that you are no ally to the Black, brown and poor people of our city, and you have given us no choice but to publicly indict you for selling us out for your own political gain.
Urban League of Greater Kansas City
National Black United Front
Operation Liberation KC
SCLC Greater Kansas City Chapter
Sunrise Movement Kansas City
Reale Justice Network
This is an unprecedented and historic moment. Never before have Black community organizations so harshly indicted the mayor for his actions.
Because the mayor is Black, criticisms were often “kept in the family,” but this letter indicates a dramatic change in posture from the Black leaders and organizers in the city.
While only time will tell, the Mayor’s latest actions may brand him “irredeemable,” and prove a grave political mistake, potentially losing large swathes of his previous support in the Black community.
This is a developing story.