Heart Village Mobile Home Park Residents Demand
Compensation From Jackson County
7/28/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Residents of the Heart Village Mobile Home Park, with support from KC Tenants, have released a list of demands to be compiled with by Jackson County. The demands were created following notice that the residents will be required to vacate their homes by February 2021 in order for the property to be used as the site for the construction of a new jail. The residents released the following press release, which includes the list of demands for Jackson County.
Over 55 residents of Heart Village Mobile Home Park released a set of demands on June 28, seeking compensation from Jackson County as the county advances plans to purchase the land beneath their homes for the site of the new county jail. The residents were informed last week that they will all be displaced from their homes by February 2022.
The residents issued the following statement:
“We are residents of Heart Village Mobile Home Park. After months of confusion and miscommunication, we have been informed that we will be displaced so that Jackson County can build a jail on the land where we currently reside in our homes. The County failed to make any real attempt to engage us, until the town hall forum last week. We were told that they would provide meager rental assistance to compensate for our trouble. That is not good enough.”
Their demands include:
A meeting between the residents and County Executive Frank White, County Administrator Troy Schulte, and County legislators before the end of August.
Full rent cancellation for the period between September 2021 and February 2022, when the County will have possession of the property.
Full compensation packages for each resident, including written confirmation from the County by the end of September.
A cash payment of at least $10,000, in addition to individual compensation packages, unrestricted in its use (i.e. not a rent assistance voucher).
RoNisha Rogers is the designated spokesperson for the Heart Village residents. KC Tenants plans to join RoNisha and her neighbors for more signature collection on Thursday evening at 5pm.
Published on: 7/29/2021
Civil Rights Groups Call for DOJ Civil Rights Investigation into KCPD
Andrei Stoica and Brynn Fitzsimmons
7/28/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Two letters were submitted from local civil rights groups this week, calling on Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to open a Department of Justice Civil Rights Investigation into the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department.
It's Time 4 Justice submitted a letter requesting a Patterns and Practices Investigation and detailing what they termed, "narrative on some of the most egregious actions of the KCPD."
"There is a clear pattern of policing in Kansas City, MO that demonstrates horrendous practices of “excessive force, biased policing and other unconstitutional practices” from the police department," their letter said. "To facilitate with establishing trust for all community members of Kansas City, we implore you to open this Patterns and Practices Investigation as soon as possible."
The group also called out the Kansas City Fraternal Order of the Police, explaining, "Further, the Fraternal Order of Police union that protects the KCPD has made it quite evident that they have a lack of regard for doing the right thing by continuing to cover up police misconduct."
The letter was supported by Getting to the Heart of the Matter, a local group of faith leaders who had worked with KCPD to "establish trust and reduce violence." Several members of the group have recently begun to speak out against the department, resulting in apparent backlash from KCPD.
The group has also opened their own complaints collection portal, where anyone who has witnessed or been a victim of police misconduct can submit a complaint. Complaints can be submitted anonymously.
A local coalition of civil rights groups, including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Urban League, More Squared, Ad Hoc Group Against Crime, El Centro and many other groups, also issued a 15-page letter to the attorney general, also requesting a civil rights investigation. The letter was released Monday, July 26.
Gwen Grant of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City said the groups had begun looking into KCPD practices in 2019 following the killing of Terrence Bridges. She said that as the groups investigated that particular incident, they uncovered more and more issues with the police department.
The request was also supported with a letter from Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters’ Baker. “There is a human and civil rights crisis in the city of Kansas City Missouri, and in Jackson County which has been longstanding and has caused great suffering, affliction, death, grief to our communities,” said Vernon Howard of SCLC at a press conference on Monday. “The core of those human and civil rights violations of our community lie within the Kansas City Police Department law enforcement and its leader Chief Rick Smith. We stand here today because we are left with no other recourse.”
Howard cited the state’s lack of intervention in public outcry over policing in Kansas City. Grant said the civil rights groups is hoping for a complete investigation of the department, similar to what was completed in Ferguson, Missouri. She said the letter aimed to provide a jumping off point for this type of investigation.
“Every single layer of operations in Kansas City Police Department must be investigated and laid bare so that we have accountability for the injustices that we have endured for far too long,” Grant said.
Published on: 7/28/2021
“They Exploited and Extorted Us”: Homeless Union Says City Failed in Support
7/21/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
“I’m tired of being a program…I ain’t gonna be nobody’s program,” said Qadhafi, leader of the Kansas City Homeless Union, in an interview on Sunday, June 27. He spoke at that time of the failure of the city’s hotel program, which was meant to connect houseless individuals with services and permanent housing. However, as the hotel program came to a close and more permanent solutions continued to be tied up in committee, many unhoused leaders, including Qadhafi, expressed frustration. “Everything is a distraction—except what the fuck we asked,” he said.
KCHU’s initial demands were homes, water, jobs and a seat at the table in city decisions regarding houselessness. Qadhafi said none of those have happened. July 15 was the last date of the hotel program for unhoused individuals in Kansas City.
The Finance, Governance and Public Safety Committee met Wednesday, July 21 at 10 a.m., and considered three proposals: one which would solicit Requests for Proposals for possible locations that could be converted into various housing solutions; one to create a solicitation process to increase current temporary services, such as shelters; and one which would allow the City Manager to enter into contract with Verge, a Pallet Community, to create pallet homes. All three proposals were held.
However, houseless individuals have pushed back against the continued expansion of city programs. Allie Stewart, who testified Wednesday, took issue with the solicitation of more proposals for services for the houseless—without that money going to the houseless.
“This is money was allocated for homeless people, not for everybody to jump on the bandwagon and see if they can bring into the fold so by the time you will get around to us, we there might be some left, hopefully,” she said.
City Council members emphasized the need for accountability from service providers as well as service providers for varying needs, and hoped the proposed legislation would enable new solutions to be brought forward.
“I look at this as an opportunity for us to follow our city process and establish an RFP…and really make informed decision about the best way to move forward,” said Councilwoman Rayna Parks-Shaw.
“Our housing needs are not just one,” said City Manager Brian Platt. “It’s not just one income level. It’s not just one type of person or one type of need, and we would like to leave it open to see what’s out there. It could be an old hotel that could be converted into housing. It could be a school. It could be a healthcare facility. It could be, you know, vacant housing. It could be a lot of things. And this will help us accept those proposals and then determine how much funding we’re going to need to set aside for that.”
Community Criticizes City’s Slow Response
All three items were held in committee, with Chairwoman Catherine Shields saying at the outset that she did not plan for the committee to take action until there was further information.
Public comment—which was initially limited to one minute until the public protested and Shields changed the limit to two minutes—commented on the city’s slowness.
“There's no urgency,” said Qadhafi, who is one of the leaders of the Kansas City Homeless Union as well as a leader with KC Tenants. “I’d like the city council to go and become homeless. Live in your car until the decision is made, but don't live in your luxury as house and make decisions.”
“We have a chairwoman by the name of Catherine Shields that seems to hold back and continue to delay, nothing but a change and direction in our city,” said Anton Washington, who is on Mayor Quinton Lucas’ Homeless Taskforce. He also reminded the committee that, with the eviction moratorium expiring July 31, housing insecurity and houselessness will only get worse.
Others, like Reverend Ester Holzendorf, pointed out that the city has known about the urgency of the problem for quite some time, given that 2021 started with the news of the death of Sixx (Scott Eicke), a houseless man who died of exposure on New Year’s Day. “Somebody froze to death,” Holzendorf reminded the committee. “Somebody died, for lack of whatever we can stop it. And we can do something about it and there is the urgency of now.”
Hotel Program and Addressing Houselessness
The program came following discussions between city officials and unhoused individuals, including the Kansas City Homeless Union, who occupied the grounds outside City Hall from the end of January up until the start of the hotel programs in March. Camp 6ixx, a houseless camp in Westport, had similar promises made, and many individuals there also went to hotels in March.
However, as the hotel program end date came closer, many KCHU members periodically returned to City Hall front lawn. They said they and other unhoused Kansas City residents were promised more than a temporary fix. A tiny home initiative, connection to wraparound services and other support were all part of what Kansas City Homeless Union Qadhafi said they were promised. Furthermore, KCHU has said they will take steps, including returning to City Hall, if needed, to get their initial demands met: homes, water, jobs and a seat at the table in decisions about houselessness.
Qadhafi said many involved in the hotel program “proved to be treacherous when money got involved.” He said many houseless individuals never received the wraparound services they were promised, and that they felt mistreated at the hotels.
“Feeding us was not in their so-called program, so I was personally setting different people to feed us,” he said.
“They was treating us like third-class citizens,” he said. “A lot of people left on their own.”
Elijah X, who stayed at two of the hotels during the initiative, said houseless guests were told they couldn’t use the pool or access food the same way other guests could. He said he was told, “It’s for paying customers, and if we do that, we’re disturbing them.”
Hotel Program Ends; Sweeps Restart
With the hotel program ending, several camps have reemerged, including Camp 6ixx. The camp, which is located in Westport, was swept Sunday, July 18, with video showing Kansas City Waste Management throwing camp items into trash trucks. Residents were taken to Penn Valley Park, where Midwest Homeless Collective worked to gather new supplies and donations to replace what had been lost in the sweep.
“How are we supposed to get jobs if we can’t sleep anywhere?” said one woman in the video, who said she is currently living in her car. “These are people’s homes. We just bought these tents last night, and you’re throwing them away?”
However, many houseless individuals have serious reservations about returning to shelters, and recount stories such as being turned away due to health issues.
Houseless individuals are also currently not allowed to return to City Hall lawn, where KCHU camped before the hotel program, due to issues with the City Hall Parking Garage. Several options are being considered by the city to fix the garage, with $5 million being the lowest cost option. Qadhafi said he was also arrested for allegedly trespassing on City Hall front lawn as houseless individuals began to return there earlier this month.
“They criminalized us,” he said. “They done turned us into criminals for being homeless.”
Several individuals gave testimony at Wednesday’s committee hearing regarding the violences of sweeps. Winifred Jamieson, who is also one of the leaders of Friday Night Protest, said she’d seen many of her neighbors’ homes swept.
“I used vacation time yesterday to pack up and relocate ten of my neighbors from their homes to Independence Avenue, Paseo because…the city evicted them with less than 24-hour notice,” she said. “In any other circumstance that action eviction would be illegal, but because my neighbors live in tents, they have no rights. (They’re told) either move or lose…their few belongings they have and be taken to jail. I don't think any of you understand the trauma every sweep causes our houses friends it is an act of violence.”
“They Value Property Over People.”
As concerns about location continue to come up in both full council meetings and committee meetings, Qadafhi said talk of houseless individuals or tiny home communities impacting property value ignore the humanity of houseless people.
“If everybody’s [saying] ‘not in my backyard,’ then there’s nowhere,” he said. “We depreciate the property value because there’s no human value.”
“They value property over people,” he said. “We homeless everywhere; we ain’t just homeless in the 3rd district.”
Qadhafi and other unhoused leaders also criticized the Lotus Group, the umbrella organization that has managed the hotel programs. City council raised questions in previous meetings regarding the money spent for Lotus’ services. Qadhafi, however, said, “The Lotus Group has no interest in us…had we had a seat at the table, the table would have include KC Tenants or some other group that’s been here,” he said. Instead, he said Lotus Group was underinformed and underequipped, and other groups, like the Greater Kansas City Coalition to End Homelessness, “get paid to do stuff for the homeless.”
“We could have took $5 million and bought houses that’s already ready,” he said when discussing the amount the city spent for Lotus Group. “It’s a feel-good smokescreen.”
“It isn’t what they promised would be after this,” Jimmy, another core organizer with KCHU, said. “They promised that housing would be after this.”
KCHU is collecting funds via CashApp at $hugyohoodinc. MHC is collecting funds via their Facebook page.
Published on: 7/21/2021
“This Was an Execution”: Community Demands Justice for Malcolm Johnson
7/10/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
The demands for justice for Malcolm Johnson continue in Kansas City, Missouri with activists planning to hold an event on Johnson’s birthday, August 14. The event will be held near 63rd and Prospect where Johnson was killed by a KCPD officer on March 25, 2021. The investigation from the Missouri Highway Patrol was sent to the Jackson County Prosecutor at the end of June. The prosecutor’s office has not yet released a decision on whether it will charge any officers involved in the incident, and no date for a decision has been announced at this time.
On Saturday, June 12, protesters, community members and friends of Malcolm Johnson gathered in Mill Creek Park to demand justice in Johnson’s case. The protest came just a few days after the Missouri Highway Patrol announced they had finished their investigation of the police killing of Malcolm Johnson and had turned the case over to state investigators. Johnson was fatally shot by KCPD officers on March 25 during an arrest related to an aggravated assault case.
Per early media reports, KCPD reported that two officers had tried to arrest Johnson, had pulled a gun on the officers, and had shot one of them in the leg.
Since the release of several videos of the incident, however, numerous community members have pointed out at press conferences and via social media that, as Sheryl Ferguson of It’s Time 4 Justice pointed out in her voiceover of the cellphone recorded video of the incident, “The officer started shooting and immediately recoiled her arm at the same time that the other officer screamed ‘God damn it.’ The cop shot the cop, and then they shot Malcolm in the head two times. And then the Missouri State Highway Patrol substantiated the Kansas City Police Department’s lie. This was an execution.”
Protesters—including Troy Robertson of Team HONK—spoke of Johnson’s case as connected to the cases of other local victims of police shootings, including Donnie Sanders, Ryan Stokes, Terrance Bridges and Cameron Lamb.
Kymberly Davidson, who attended the June 12 protest and said she is a friend of the family, said she met Johnson last 4th of July, when they were at a family gathering and took turns watching the kids.
“Malcolm was a cool guy,” she said. “He was a good father. He was a good friend.”
She described the fear that Johnson’s killing has caused for his children, and said the children are afraid of being shot by police, too. “You have another child without a father,” she said.
She said she found out about Johnson’s death from the family on the same night it happened. “The story I was hearing was not the same story in the media,” she said, noting that early media reports described a “shootout” between Johnson and police.
“Come to find out, that was not the case,” Davidson said. She described seeing the videos released since Johnson’s death, which show shots being fired while Johnson is face down on the ground, with several officers on top of him. “Why does it take four officers to shoot him twice in the back of the head?” Davidson said.
“This is not an open and shut case,” said Pastor Darron Edwards during a June 3 press conference from faith leaders, who received three videos from the community of the incident, all of which appeared to contradict KCPD’s initial reports on the incident. “Let me tell you, Kansas City, when I look at the video? It looks like one officer shot another officer, then shot the victim twice in the head. The police can clear this up for me by telling us what really happened. We say we want Kansas City to be a safe city in every zip code, and we believe in policing—I want this on the record—but we don’t believe in this kind of policing in Kansas City.”
He also questioned why officers are still allowed to return to work while the investigation is ongoing. He said faith leaders turned over video they had received to Highway Patrol, “so that it can be included, not in an open and shut case, but in an ongoing investigation.”
Dr. Emanuel Cleaver III reiterated that while faith leaders are not anti-police, but also said, “There is a clear problem in Kansas City—it’s an ongoing problem. And that’s that there is an ongoing disconnect between police and the community, in particular, Black and brown communities. The question should be asked: why weren’t the videos handed over to law enforcement? Why were the videos handed over to us? And the question can be answered easily: it is because the community does not trust police,” he said. “We have to start with the top and work our way down. That’s the only way we’re going to really bring about change.”
“Kansas City, this is a moment for change,” Edwards said. “A change is going to come. This is what we believe.”
The “Justice for Malcolm” event will be held at 6 p.m. on August 14, starting at Troost Ave. and Meyer Blvd. and will include a march to the BP station on 63rd and Prospect.
Published on: 7/10/2021
KCMO BOPC Meeting Tuesday Expected to Continue Policing Conversation
6/14/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
6/14/ 2021 Update: Nathan Garrett, who served on the Board of Police Commissioners announced his resignation on June 14. Garrett, who voiced his opposition to the reallocation, said his resignation was due to a "change in residency." He sent his resignation on Friday, June 11.
On Tuesday, June 15, the Kansas City, Missouri Board of Police Commissioners will meet for their first regularly scheduled meeting since the board met May 24 for a special closed session and voted to pursue litigation to block Mayor Quinton Lucas’ new legislation to reallocate police funding.
The first of the two ordinances reallocate $42,282,444 of the Kansas City Police department budget to the Community Services and Prevention Account of KCPD, which is intended to support community initiatives and prevention programs. The second allocates an additional $3 million to the Community Services and Prevention account. It authorizes the City Manager to execute an agreement with the Board of Police Commissioners of Kansas City, Missouri in a total amount not to exceed $45,282,444.00 for community engagement, outreach, prevention, intervention, and other public services including recruitment efforts for a new police academy class. The motions passed KCMO City Council 9-4 on May 20.
The BOPC motion to pursue litigation against the ordinance initially passed 3-1, with Lucas voting no and Tolbert absent, at a May 24 meeting. An additional meeting held May 28 added Tolbert to the list of yes votes, resulting in a 4-1 pass.
A May 28 press release from the mayor said the city “reluctantly embraces” the litigation efforts from the BOPC: “While the Board’s lawsuit represents a call for the status quo, under the status quo, we have lost kids like LeGend Taliaferro. Under the status quo, two people were killed on our streets just yesterday. Folks, we can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again. The status quo is killing us,” the release reads. “As I’ve said before, Kansas City, reluctantly embraces this litigation to shed light on and strike down a system that for generations has been unfair, unconstitutional, and, sadly, unsuccessful."
Gwendolyn Grant of the Urban League has also filed a motion to “intervene in the lawsuit filed by the Board of Police Commissioners in order to assert my constitutional rights as a Kansas City taxpayer and as an African American,” she said in a press briefing on Monday, June 14. She described the BOPC lawsuit as an “attempt to cast off all limits on its ability to take Kansas City’s tax dollars (that) violates the Missouri constitution.”
“This is about taxation without representation. We are taking this fight to the ourt to seek remedy for decades and decades, decades upon decades of injustice,” she said.
Failure of the Status Quo
The mayor’s comments on the failure of the status quo were far from the only sentiments to that effect in recent weeks. At the last BOPC meeting on May 11, during the public comment portion, Tierra Cox—sister of Terrence Bridges, who was killed by a KCPD officer, said her brother was never even given a command to stop before the officer shot him.
“How does KCPD feel having so much blood on their hands? Because how does y’all sleep at night?” she asked. “How do y’all keep this same police on the force, this same chief, when people keep getting killed?”
“I don’t see no good intentions from the police,” she said. “Oh, because you wear a uniform you get the right to kill my brother? No. You don’t got the right—you not God.”
Other speakers, like Odessa Andre of More Squared, tied the issue directly to Police Chief Rick Smith. “Chief Smith has continuously slandered the oath of this force,” she said. “The integrity…of KCPD is rancid.”
Khadijah Hardaway of Justice for Wyandotte also gave public comment. “My soul drug me here,” she said. “My soul said to me that I do not know you, Chief Rick Smith. I do not know you, Pastor Edwards. I do not know you Brad Lemon. I do not know you, Jean Peters Baker. I do not know you, Don Parson. But I do know that you have covered up corruption for far too long.”
“It’s time for you to go, because there are too many Black people…that I continue to see die at your hands with no accountability, with no transparency,” she said. She demanded the police release the videos of the killing of Malcolm Johnson from March 25, at 63rd and Prospect. Local faith leaders later released three videos they had been given by members of the community, noting that those videos contradicted initial police reports.
Sheryl Ferguson of It’s Time 4 Justice also spoke about the lack of accountability or responsiveness from Smith. “It makes me wonder where is the common sense of hearing all the concerns from so many, civil rights and activist organizations, church groups from various religious backgrounds and many citizens who have constantly posed how concerned they are if this Chief is the right person for this position, for this city,” she said.
“Instead of hearing real conversations to speak with these groups and talk to ways to improve his actions, we have only heard the arrogance of ‘I am not going to resign or retire.’ Never asking what can I do better. Instead we get double talk in an answer of what policing model he uses,’” she said. In reference to two common policing strategies, she added, “Unless he is using the Guardian in the North and West regions of the city, but we can tell he is using the Warrior in the areas where the people I care about live. The Bible says a double minded man is unstable in ALL his ways. How much more time and taxpayer money will you continue to waste?”
Mayor’s Reallocation Ordinances Explained
Melesa Johnson, special advisor to Lucas, explained the legislation this way, “First and foremost, I do want to be clear that this is not an effort to defund the police department. We value our officers and the services that they provide to the city. But what this does is it reroutes the money back to the police department with certain parameters on how that money can be spent.”
She said the legislation is in response to the rising crime rate, which has been a longstanding concern for city leadership. “We know from these past five years, we had a constant uptick a crime,” she said. “We've been writing blank checks to the police department. We increased their funding by $8 million last year. We gave them $3 million more this year for a police academy class. All we want to be sure is that city council has some say and how that money is deployed.”
One of the issues, she said, is that city council does not have direct oversight of the police department, since the Board of Police Commissioners, with the exception of Lucas, is appointed by the governor rather than elected by the people. “Since we are the only city in the entire state of Missouri that does not have local control of its police department, this is the only mechanism that we have to have some sort of say on how that money is spent, for example, increased prevention services,” she explained. “We love our officers. We trust our officers. We just want to have some sort of say like every other city in the state of Missouri, and how our taxpayer dollars are being spent to make the city safer.”
Public Hearings Over Reallocation
Several public hearings have been held regarding the reallocation ordinances. One, held May 27 by Northland councilmembers Kevin O’Neill, Heather Hall, Teresa Loar and Dan Fowler.
Speakers said they were afraid to go to the Plaza because of lack of police and stressed the need for “law and order,” claiming the reallocation was reducing funding to police. One speaker, Sandra, said, “We don’t need social justice; we need rule of law where everyone is responsible for their actions.”
President Brad Lemon also spoke, claiming the department was underfunded and that the reallocation of police budget into community programs, even with the additional funding for the police academy class, would further reduce police officers.
“We’re not going to call social workers to protect this city,” he said.
But therapists and social workers like one speaker, who identified herself as Anna, disagreed. She said that, given that “where poverty exists, simultaneously crime increases because of lack of resources,” that the reallocation may help.
“My understanding is that the reallocation of the funding is into community programming for prevention of violent crime, mental health, conflict resolution, different preventative measures, such as education,” she continued.
However, she was not able to finish her statement due to interruptions from the crowd, who eventually shouted at her to the point that she was forced to leave the podium before her time was up.
“I want to hear everybody. That’s what we do up here,” Councilman Dan Fowler said in response to the incident. However, similar responses met others who spoke against the police department or in favor of the Mayor’s ordinances.
Johnson—who came on behalf of Lucas, who could not attend—said in an interview following the meeting that while Northland council members in particular have said they were upset by the same-day passage of Lucas’ ordinances, that same-day adoptions are within the realm of city procedure and policy.
Another meeting, held June 5 by The Kansas City Call, included comments from Lucas and other city councilmembers who had voted in favor of the ordinance.
“You've heard a lot of distortions, right? Some folks have said, ‘Oh, this is defunding the police?’” Lucas said. “Well, as I see the ordinance, and we got to look at it closely, there's a whole bunch of money that can only go to the police department. All we want to be able to do is say at the end of the year, did this help work on efforts relating to prevention and community services? Does this help folks work with our neighborhoods?”
Upcoming BOPC Meetings
The regular BOPC meeting on Tuesday, June 15 will begin at 9:30 a.m. and will include a public comment section. Other upcoming meetings include an Audit Committee Meeting on Friday, June 25 at 10 a.m. and a hearing related to disciplinary proceedings for sergeant Gregory Satter on Friday, July 23 at 9 a.m.
Published on: 6/14/2021
Friday Night Protest Holds One Year Memorial Event
6/4/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
On Friday, June 4, at 6 p.m., the leaders of the Friday Night Protest held a one year memorial event to honor the lives of over 150 people who have been killed by Kansas City Police Department Officers. The event also commemorated a year since the protest--which has met weekly outside KCPD Headquarters--has been going.
Steve Young and Winifred Jamieson, the leaders of the Friday Night Protest, have stated that their protest aims to hold space for victims of KCPD officer violence, “saying the names of the local victims of police violence,” as Young said on Friday. They have also demanded the removal of Chief Rick Smith, greater accountability for officers and the defunding of KCPD.
Friday’s event included speeches from the families of a number of people who were killed by KCPD officers.
One of Cameron Lamb’s sisters, who did not share her name, said she felt it was important to talk about her brother as a person expressly because who he was as a person is often glossed over:
“I would just like to talk about (Cameron) as a person because I feel like since all of this happened, a lot of the things that have been in the media haven't really reflected him in a good light. Like they don't usually talk about the good things about a person, they immediately get shot by the police, you get killed by the police, they immediately start putting out bad things about you, like it was your fault that you got murdered.
But my brother, he loves people, he loves people. And he was such a comedian. He will always tell jokes, and we will always have a good time, every time we were together. He was a great father. He had three boys, he has nieces, and he has a niece and nephews that he was always doing stuff with. And he was always around. And I just feel so sad that the kids don't get to experience him anymore. It's been really hard for our family, just knowing the type of person that he was, the things that we had to go through.
I just really wish that we could just help hold the police officers accountable for when they do something wrong. And they shouldn't get all of this time to get a story straight, and have time to figure out what's going on. And just like, if any citizen wants to murder somebody, they will get arrested immediately. And they will put them in the interrogation room, and they would be interrogating them immediately after they were arrested. Just like you're gonna do a drug test and do all of that stuff on dead bodies, you need to do the same thing with the police officers, because they do more drugs and do more bad things than the citizens that they claim they are here to protect.
So I just want everybody, please continue to support our family because it's not over. The officer he was indicted. But he hasn't been. He hasn't been convicted. He hasn't been convicted yet. And he needs to be convicted.”
Narene Stokes, Ryan’s mother, also shared her son’s story:
“Okay, first of all, I would like to apologize to you, and ask for your forgiveness. Because this is my very first time here. I would like for you to accept my apology and forgive me, because I don't know where I've been. Good job in calling Ryan's name out. And that's all good. Because I'm here for you. And with you for the same reason. Thank you.
Okay, Ryan was killed on July 28, 2013. He was 24 years old, down here at Power and Light to have himself a nice time, as most young men and young ladies do. And then there is some kind of confusion, some kind of altercation. And they say, Ryan had a gun, wouldn't put it down. So they had to shoot him. But it was a lie.
You know, any mother's gonna go view her son, my only son. Now this is my baby boy. They are gonna view him, and he's shot in the back. How do you call that justifiable? When you shoot a man in the back and he don't have a gun.
So it's gone on eight years for me. Eight years since Ryan's been killed. Murdered. It's just not right. It's not right. How they're killing our young men? And think they can get away with it. And I mean, "they" when I say "they", I mean the police. I mean, the mayor of this city. I mean, the governor. This is happening right here in Kansas City. And they ain't trying to do a doggone thing about it. They just want us to be silent. They want us to sweep things under the rug. And we're not going to do that. We see now; we're standing here for a reason, right? We want justice, we need change.”
Reshonda Sanders, the sister of Donnie Sanders, talked about how her brother was killed during a traffic stop. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker recently said she would not press charges against the officer involved.
“My brother did not deserve to die. No matter how they try and portray him or make him look like he was the bad guy. He was only trying to drive home. That was a you know, one thing I just don't understand.
I still will never understand how he was going southbound on Prospect, and the officer was coming northbound on Prospect, and what made him make a U-turn to come after my brother. I don't know. He literally made a U-turn and followed him and just chased him.
My brother's scared you know? I don't understand, you know, like, he jumped out the truck and ran. I don't understand it. The opposite side was in any type of harm while my brother run in front of you. (He was) caught with a gun...but (he was) running from (the officer).
...How is it that they can hear him supposedly saying what he was saying (on the dash cam footage) if that my brother was killed around the corner? I don't understand that. But you said you ain't got no evidence (to prosecute).”
Travis Griffin’s uncle, who did not give his name, also spoke about the injustice and lack of accountability in policing in Kansas City:
“I've never seen anywhere in the world where taxpayers pay to die like in Kansas City, Missouri. On January 8 2018 my nephew was shot and killed by KCPD. He made a flaw one day, and he was a good kid. His flaw was a fatal one: he ran from police. That encounter cost him six shots in the back. One in the arm, one in the leg. When the witness account said that he was not a threat to KCPD, video evidence said the same. Yet still nothing has come of this officer who shot my nephew in the back six times and killing him. It's been tough for my little sister to even speak up.
I just don't know what to say. It's terrible, tragic. And it's got to come to an end. You know, we all love each other while we're here and tell each other often. Because in the blink of an eye, it can all be over with. You know, my nephew was a good kid, but that one flaw was a fatal one.”
Faith Leaders Express Support
Several faith leaders also spoke at Friday’s rally, praising the efforts of Friday Night Protest and calling for greater accountability and change in the Kansas City Police Department.
“What you've done has made a difference, what you've done where it has made a difference, and it cannot be unnoticed, it cannot be covered up. Now they did it, they did it because of some lives, some brothers’ and sisters’ lost or taken when they shouldn't have been, but at the hands of KCPD,” said Reverend Nia Chandler of St. Mark Union Church. “They did it because they're seeking justice that still hasn't been realized. Because you have people that want to put things under the rug, cover things up, not tell the truth. Well, the devil is a liar, because the truth does rise to the light, and anything that (is) hidden will become unhidden.”
“Steve and Win, bless you, and all of those partners who are with you. And the persecutions you face, the difficulties you face, because of the stance that you take--don't even get it twisted. Your God will have the last word in Kansas City,” said Dr. Vernon Howard of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Kansas City. “A truth (about) a police, a law enforcement agency that cares more about a statue, about a monument than about the Black lives that it takes. Kansas City is a major metropolitan area that allows for an apartheid like police system by other folks in another city in the state."
Continued Push for Change
Troy Robertson of Team HONK, who has reported multiple instances of being brutalized and targeted by police officers, stressed the need to continue to work for justice. “We have to make a change, and I stand there, hold the signs out for peace honk, honk for unity, honk for justice; for these kids. You see what I'm saying? We got to stand up for these kids.”
Robertson was arrested later that evening and held for over 24 hours with a bond of over $4,500. Alleged citations were DWI, property damage, driving slowly and setting fire in a public street. Robertson said the arrest came after he left the event, and that officers forced him off the road, causing him to crash his car and break his wrist.
Young and Jamieson stressed the importance of continuing to fight for justice for those who have been brutalized or targeted by KCPD, including Robertson. They plan to continue their protest next Friday, June 11, at 6 p.m.
Published on: 6/5/2021
Mayor’s ordinance to reallocate KCPD funding passes city council 9-4
5/20/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Quinton Lucas introduced a motion at the May 20 City Council meeting to reallocate $42,282,444 of the Kansas City Police department budget to the Community Services and Prevention Account of KCPD, which is intended to support community initiatives and prevention programs.
Lucas said the reallocation is aimed at ensuring KCPD funds are used with greater accountability. “This is just about accountability,” he said. “When I was third district at large, there was not a single community meeting where people didn't say, ‘Councilman Lucas, what are you doing about violent crime in our city?’ And you know what I get kind of tired of saying, ‘Well, you know, I voted on the budget back in March. And I'll follow up and ask some more questions for it.’ So maybe this is just one little step.”
The five percent decrease to the department budget was passed city council with a vote of nine to four. The motion was introduced for same day advanced priority consideration with opposition from Councilman Dan Fowler who said, “I doubt I will support it when it comes before council, hopefully after it's been vetted, and talked about."
The councilman also voiced a concern about “transparency in government” regarding waiving additional readings.
“We have no way of knowing how we're going to spend $42 million. Is going to go to law enforcement? Is going to go to some of the community program that somebody links to law enforcement, reducing crime? I have no idea. This is wrong. I can't support this," he said.
Fowler was one of the four votes against Ordinance 210466 alongside council members Kevin O'Neil, Heather Hall and Teresa Loar.
“This is my 14th year down here. This is the worst piece of legislation I've ever seen down here. The worst, by far” said Hall. “One thing I didn't notice on here, Mr. Mayor, are your two police officers who protect you day in and day out. They're not being cut.”
Councilman Brandon Ellington, who voted in favor of the legislation said “Why is it important? It's important because people that are law enforcement officers are actually individuals that work for and are restricted to policy implications. on a local level”
”When we talk about law enforcement, the conversation is broken down to us versus them. If you find yourself understanding of which position you are in, are you them or are you us? That is problematic because we're talking about a public safety entity.” he added.
Mayor Pro Tem Kevin McManus agreed, citing the reallocation ordinance as well as a second ordinance that supplies additional city funding to KCPD for the community programs: “DC and Jefferson City, what they want us to think is that this is an us versus them situation, us versus law enforcement, community versus law enforcement. That's not what this is about. These two ordinances together are actually an invitation for cooperation, an invitation for collaboration.”
The second ordinance (210468), allocates $3 million to the Community Services and Prevention account. It authorizes the City Manager to execute an agreement with the Board of Police Commissioners of Kansas City, Missouri in a total amount not to exceed $45,282,444.00 for community engagement, outreach, prevention, intervention, and other public services including recruitment efforts for a new police academy class.
Councilwoman Mellisa Robinson spoke on Twitter following the vote expressing her support for the ordinance specifically because it would provide support for the academy class.
Hall also took to Twitter to announce a Town Hall discussion on Thursday May 27 at 6:30 pm at Northland Neighborhoods Inc, hosted by the four council members who voted “no” on both ordinances.
"Ordinance 210466 introduced & passed May 20th cut the KCMO Police Budget by $42 million without public input,” the flyer reads.
The Board of Police Commissioners is also pushing back, with all members except Lucas (Commissioner Tolbert absent) voting to initiate litigation against the ordinance during a closed session meeting held Monday, May 24. Sunshine Law attorney Bernie Rhodes told KSHB 41 the meeting may have violated laws regarding closed meetings needing to have clear agenda items and explanation for why they are closed meetings.
Ordinance 210466 reallocated but did not cut police department funding, while Ordinance 210468 added $3 million to support Community Service and Prevention.
“This actually increases the police budget over what it is in the adopted budget for the city of Kansas City,” Lucas said.
The town hall event is open to the public and will be held 5340 NE Chouteau Trafficway, Kansas City, Missouri.
Published on: 5/26/2021
Olathe North coach terminated for using racial slurs
5/10/2021- Olathe, Kansas
In a unanimous decision Monday, the Olathe School Board voted to uphold the recommendation of the district superintendent to immediately terminate baseball coach Pete Flood in response to reports that he used racial slurs when addressing a student.
The vote was part of a special session held by the board today in response to a statement made by an Olathe North parent on social media Friday morning. According to the statement, Flood used racial slurs when talking to a student during batting practice at a Thursday night baseball game.
School board president Joe Beveridge apologized to the family of the student and thanked them for reporting Flood’s behavior. He said that the district would “act swiftly to prevent this from happening ever again.” Beveridge added, “Anyone who demonstrates racism and bigotry like this has no place in our district.”
He also recommended the district evaluate its diversity training program for teachers, staff, coaches, and students. “You can and should expect more from the Olathe School District. We will learn from this, and we will be better in the future,” he said.
Another school board member highlighted the importance of speaking up when witnessing racist behavior, citing the phrase “silence is acceptance.”
There was no discussion during today’s meeting of whether Flood would be eligible for employment in other districts following his termination.
Community demands for this decision have been evident since the parent’s statement was published on social media Friday morning. In addition to an outpouring of comments on social media that were in support of the family and in favor of terminating Flood, on Saturday afternoon, families rallied in front of Olathe North High School in an event organized by The Miller Dream, LLC along with other local groups. Demonstrators set up signs for passing cars and chanted phrases including, “End white silence about racist violence,” “Black lives matter in our schools,” and “Today is the day racism goes away.”
A representative of The Miller Dream stated that the purpose of the protest was to call for the immediate termination of Pete Flood, along with other reparative measures for the incident, including a public apology and mental health resources provided by the school district for those harmed by the incident.
According to a statement issued by Olathe Public Schools, at the time of the protest, Flood was on administrative leave, and the district had issued a recommendation for his termination to the Olathe School Board.
“Although there has been a recommendation [to terminate Flood],” a representative of The Miller Dream said, “We’re here standing to basically push for accountability with the schools for a zero-tolerance policy for racism.”
They added, “We’re also demanding that there’s an independent investigation into this matter, because we’re aware that these incidents occur more frequently than most know in our communities.”
Other incidents of racial harassment & discrimination cited by parents of local students include the 2017 case of a Blue Valley school district student being excluded from a dance performance because of her dark skin and the Shawnee Mission school district community’s call in 2020 for the dismissal of a principal who allegedly made racist remarks.
The Olathe School Board’s decision to terminate Flood during today’s session addressed some of the concerns raised by Saturday’s protestors, most notably the termination of the coach and the public statement of apology. Others, like the request for mental health resources for those impacted by the incident and an independent investigation of the incident, were not directly addressed.
Published on: 5/11/2021
KU Black Student Coalition Holds Ceremony of Silence
4/23/2021- Lawrence, Kansas
Published on: 5/2/2021
Kansas City Coalition Refuses Meeting with Mayor and Chief of Police, Releases Open Letter
4/22/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Published 0n: 4/22/2021
BOPC Passes Policies for First Amendment Protected Activities, Digital Media Recording
3/23/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Published 0n: 4/14/2021
Hickman Mills School Board Candidates Focused on Accreditation, Future Directions for District
4/5/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Published 0n: 4/5/2021
“Let Us Take It Into Our Own Hands”: Camp 6ixx Demands Support, Not Sweeps
4/1/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Camp 6ixx, which began as a warming site for the houseless community in Westport in January, is facing a sweep threat from the city, who has ordered them to leave by end of day on April 4.
“When they do the sweeps, where the people go, right?” said Willis, one of the houseless residents of Camp 6ixx, a houseless camp in Westport that started as a warming site in January and has since grown to a small community, with community members working to improve tent structures, start a community garden and coordinate other resources for the houseless community. The camp is named for Scott “Sixx” Eicke, a houseless man who died of exposure on New Year’s Day.
The city has issued notice to both Camp 6ixx and the Kansas City Homeless Union’s occupation of city hall in Kansas City, Missouri to vacate the camps by end of day on Sunday, April 4. The camps are anticipating sweeps in the early hours of Monday morning.
Willis said sweeps threaten the safety and stability of unhoused individuals by taking the resources the houseless community has been able to gain. He said services for houseless individuals needs to include giving people homes—not sweeping camps.
“You know, it's the city officials and people who give Section A government housing need to step up and say, ‘Hey, this, these buildings that are empty, and get these people and reprocess them. They need reconstruction in their lives. Something in their lives failed, hurt them; let's pick them up,’” he said.
Another camp resident, Michael said the city should support what’s already happening onsite at the camp, rather than trying to impose their own guidelines or programs.
“People of Kansas City are pretty much doing everything they can. They're coming by with food, clothes, supplies, and even the people that set this set this up is spending their money to make it better. So the city could just help,” Michael said. “It's not like they don't have the money or the manpower or the resources, why they shouldn't? why they're shutting camps now, with nowhere for people to go--what's the next step after that? Take him to jail for sitting on sitting down somewhere? I mean, it's almost like they're just trying to circulate the money within their own organization.”
“The city (is) just sitting there, and all they're doing is shutting camps down Instead of…opening up opportunities for these camps to better themselves, for people to actually find jobs,” Michael said. “It's kind of hard to do that when you have no internet and no computer, no access to anything, and a lot of these people don't.”
He explained that in addition to resources like internet access, there are many other resources that would help the houseless community that aren’t freely available and improving access should be how the city responds to camps like Camp 6ixx.
“You shouldn't have to get arrested to get drug treatment,” he said. “(The city) should come through and offered stuff like drug treatment. They should come through and offer job resources, you know, (saying) 'We got this, we got this over here, y'all can come by jump on the computer, job hunt.’ But like I said…all the city's worried about is their own pockets.”
Kansas City’s 2021-2022 budget allocates $1.72 million to housing initiatives, with nearly half that funding going to contracts with non-municipal organizations. Houseless leaders at both Camp 6ixx and the Kansas City Homeless Union occupation of city hall have criticized the budget for funding organizations, such as shelters, that often don’t provide permanent solutions to houselessness or housing insecurity.
Joe, another member of the camp, said some businesses have complained about the camp or have cut resources like open WiFi that members of the camp relied on to look for work.
“Subway's always had WiFi…(but) just the last couple of days, they shut it off,” he said. “It's hard to look for a job or anything when you don't have internet or computer that kind of resource.”
Joe explained he is at the camp staying with his mother, who became houseless after leaving an abusive relationship. He said there were no shelters available that would let them stay together. His brother, who became houseless in February, is in the hospital, and Joe said he’s needed to watch his mother’s possessions while she is with his brother.
“It's kind of a messed up situation,” he said. “You know, it's kind of hard when you're in that situation to try to get out of it. Like, I don't, I can't get a job because I don't have a place to live.”
Amanda, an organizer who has been supporting Camp 6ixx, said the need for housing has been a primary demand from the camp, with many residents asking: “There's 10,000 vacant homes in Kansas City; why are we laying our heads on the ground?”
“We want the homes,” she said. “We know how to pick them up. We have contractors here. We have people that have done electrical work, plumbing work, all of that. And so why, why not give us the homes, let us to take it into our own hands? We're doing it here, and we're doing a good job.”
Organizations involved in assisting Camp 6ixx have included Care Beyond the Boulevard, Uplift, Team Jesus, Street Medicine KC, ReStart, Hope Faith Ministries and many community residents who have stopped by with donations or to ask how they can help.
The camp is accepting donations via Venmo and Cashapp ($Camp6ixx) and can be contacted via their Facebook page.
Published 0n: 4/4/2021
“We Are Not Accidentally Homeless; We Are Being Oppressed”: KC Homeless Union Speaks Out Against City Eviction Threat
4/1/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Tiana Caldwell, a leader with KC Tenants, speaks to attendees of Thursday’s rally in support of the Kansas City Homeless Union. The rally was a joint event between KC Tenants and the union. Union leaders, including Qadhafi (right) said the occupation would not end in spite of eviction and arrest threats from the city.
The Kansas City Homeless Union, which has been occupying the grounds outside City Hall in Kansas City, Missouri since the end of January, was given written notice that they must vacate the camp. Union leaders said they are expecting the sweep to happen early Monday morning, and are asking the community to come support them.
However, the group also said they will not be leaving. Their demands—for homes, jobs, water and a seat at the table—have not been met.
“Y'all keep putting us outside, from under bridges, but y'all not giving us no place to go,” union leader Qadhafi said in a March 23 interview. “We don’t need a damn shelter; we need homes.”
“We don't benefit from people going giving shelters. They shelters benefit. They get money for that. We don't get no money. We still be homeless,” he said. “Shelters is getting approximately $15 million a year…from the city,” he explained. “The private sector is getting them approximately 30 or 45 more million dollars in donations. And with all that money, and only allegedly 2,000 homeless people in Kansas City—that's a multi-million dollar industry…and the people that need it the most is not benefitting.”
The group has requested homes from the land bank as well as funds to pay houseless individuals to renovate those homes. They also demand clean water, and inclusion in conversations about houselessness in Kansas City.
“You got people think that we begging for homes, (but) we simply saying with the same money the city is already spending, and allegedly doing it on our behalf, that we could take that same money and solve the problem,” Qadhafi explained. “A shelter is only in the business of capitalizing off of us being homeless. If we take the same money that's going to shelters, we wouldn't need a shelter.”
“We demand a seat at the table where they make decisions about our lives,” Qadhafi said at a rally on Thursday, April 1. The rally was held in collaboration with KC Tenants in support of the union.
At that rally, Qadhafi explained further the ways in which the city’s response to houselessness has not addressed the problem. He discussed issues ranging from evictions that often side with landlords and lead to houselessness for residents to shelters that refuse to hire houseless people to the lack of water stations or bathroom facilities available for the houseless community, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have a right to self-determination,” he said. “We have a right to simply use the bathroom like regular people, not outside like animals.”
Despite various city initiatives, including Mayor Quinton Lucas’ Homelessness Taskforce, Qadhafi said the union’s demands are still not being met.
“Our city officials is not on our side. We are fighting literally for our lives,” he said. “If our city officials were on our side, we wouldn’t have a fight; we would have homes.”
“Every day out here is an act of terror,” he said. “We are not accidentally homeless; we are being oppressed.”
Unhoused leaders share their experiences
Union leader Lulu Livingston also spoke at Thursday’s rally, explaining that she became houseless when she had her identity stolen. She said the police department dismissed her report, and she’s been houseless since.
“I’m tired of being afraid all the time,” she said. “I want a home. I want a job. I want access to clean water. And if I want that, I need a seat at the table.”
Livingston said people often judge the houseless community for trying to survive. For example, she said housed members of the community will see discarded clothes and assume a lack of cleanliness, when in reality, Livingston said there often are no other options.
“When it starts to rain, you panic for just that split second when you realize there’s no safe place to get out of the rain,” she said. When items like clothing6 get wet, she said they’re often too heavy to carry, and she has no option but to discard them.
“From my point of view, I have no choice. From their (housed individuals’) point of view, I’m just a slob,” she said.
Qadhafi explained that while the occupation is a political strategy aimed at forcing the city to meaningfully address houselessness in Kansas City and do so on the terms of the houseless community, the union has also worked to support its members in other ways.
He said he was recently able to help get shelter for a family with three young children who had been staying at the occupation but needed better shelter.
“I asked them about going to a shelter yesterday and they panicked,” he said. “Because for whatever reason, people don’t want those type of people in they business, because they try to take control of their lives and tell them what, when, where, how or ‘we'll take your kids,’ and people are in fear of going to shelters.”
“People need homes, not people prying into their business for being homeless,” he said. “They don't want their kids took from them, just because they're homeless.”
Other union members also spoke during Thursday’s rally about the sense of community within the union.
“We love each other. That’s how we are a union,” said union member Elijah X, who is also a leader with KC Tenants. “This is more than just a union.”
“This homeless union is a body of people that care,” said Solo, another union member. “I’d like to let the city know we’re not going nowhere. We’re already outside!”
Support for the union
Qadhafi said the union needs the support of the Kansas City community—of residents who can put both their resources and their vote behind the union.
“I’m asking the people that’s here to get our back,” he said at Thursday’s rally.
In addition to asking the community to show up in solidarity early Monday morning (especially before 7 a.m.), the union is also taking donations via their CashApp, $hugyohood. Other donations and support can be coordinated by reaching out through their Facebook page.
Published on: 4/4/2021
KCMO approves funding for the Office of the Tenant Advocate
3/25/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Jenay Manley, a leader with KC Tenants speaks at the press conference held ahead of the city council budget approval meeting.
The Kansas City, Missouri City Council adopts $1.74 billion for the 2021-2022 city budget on March 25. Included in the budget is $931,495 to fund the Office of the Tenant advocate. The proposal to create the position was part of the Tenant Bill of Rights, an initiative led by local activist group KC Tenants. The bill was signed into law in June 2020 and included the creation of the office. The need to adequately fund the office was part of KC Tenants’ continued action and protests over the last nine months.
“This will be a victory for us at KC Tenants and it’s a victory for tenants across the city and not a moment too soon,” said Diane Charity, a leader with KC Tenants, at a press conference held ahead of the council’s approval.
At the press conference held just before the city council meeting, KC Tenants announced their next phase of advocacy for housing rights in Kansas City.
“We dream of a Kansas city where everyone has a home. We dream of a Kansas City where everyone has safe, accessible, truly and permanently affordable homes… I dream of the Kansas City where this mayor and city council passed a housing trust fund policy designed by the people who stand to be the most impacted,” said Jenay Manley, a leader of KC Tenants.
KC Tenants has also proposed the creation of a Housing Trust Fund at the press conference. The fund would have three components: governance, funding and programs that would prioritize long-term affordability, rehabilitative solutions for people with prior evictions and have community control.
“(If) we're going to end homelessness and housing insecurity, we have to think big. If we're going to care for our neighbors in a radical new way we're going to have to be bold. We have to take risks, do things and do things differently if we want different outcomes; and of course we have to approach this type of policymaking with humility,” said Jordan Ayala, a member of KC Tenants while talking about the fund.
More details will be released from KC Tenants in the coming weeks.
Published on: 3/31/2021
Albert Wilson released on bond, district attorneys look to “resolve this short of trial"
3/23/2021- Lawrence, Kansas
Jeanette Price of Kansas City, MO holds a sign outside the Douglas County Courthouse on November 3, 2020, at a hearing asking for a retrial.
Published on: 3/24/2021
Hickman Mills School Board Candidates Speak at Forum
3/21/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Published on: 3/21/2021
Albert Wilson granted retrial
3/16/2021- Lawrence, Kansas
Published on: 3/16/2021
Founder of Scott Eicke Warming Center discusses houselessness, future directions
3/13/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Published on: 3/13/2021
Kansas City Homeless Union Holds Rally, Demands Homes Not Shelters
3/7/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Published on: 3/13/2021
The Demand for Justice for Donnie Sanders Continues Despite No Charges Filed in Police Shooting from Jackson County Prosecutor
3/6/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
KCPD detain a protester at the march for Donnie Sanders in Kansas City, Missouri on March 6, 2021
Photo by Andrei Stoica
The Jackson County prosecutor’s office is holding a virtual public forum today at 6 pm local time about use of force incidents involving the Kansas City, Missouri police department and their investigations.
Published on: 3/9/2021
Most KCMO City Departments will take 11 percent budget cut; KCPD to cut 4.3 percent
2/16/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
KCMO Board of Police Commissioners at the February 2021 meeting.
Photo by Andrei Stoica
Published on 2/23/2021
KC Tenants Demands Full Funding For The Office Of The Tenant Advocate
2/21/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Published on: 2/21/2021
'I See Them Leveling Up': The Scott Eicke Warming Center
2/13/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Published on: 2/14/2021
‘My current address is 414 East 12th Street, City Hall, homeless at large’: Organizer Speaks on Homeless Union
2/5/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
The Kansas City Homeless Union in Kansas City, Missouri is continuing its occupation in front of City Hall into its second week. Qadhafi, who led the efforts to unionize the homeless of Kansas City, explained the unionization and occupation in an interview on February 5:
“I started asking people at different camps around the city to set a date for a meeting on the 28th...to meet up here, and we went and picked a lot of people up, brought them up before the meeting and we initiated a homeless union, so we could stop being extorted and exploited by other people that (are) saying they're doing something for us and was talking about (how) they fixing us and ain't doing a damn thing, you know, and that's just it.
I mean, everybody except the homeless has been invited to the round table to do something on our behalf, except us. And the people that they called into the round table to fix us don't even know us. They never been to no homeless camps. They scared of us. We come down the street, and they go the other way. And they, I mean, ain't no other way of putting it except they just like using us to game the system.
And since we don't have a voice collectively, they can do that, because we separated, divided, despised by everybody. And so we came together on common terms to create our own union and join what's right for ourselves and forbid what's wrong. And now, collectively, we have a voice, and so based on that, we're gonna be speaking for ourselves, you know, based on, nobody is influencing us outside of people that's walking in our shoes.
Anybody who got a place to live, and go home every day, and not out here on these streets, you know, I mean, they can't tell us how to fix us. We don't need no intercessor or go-between to do nothing.
Everybody keeps saying they giving other people money to fix us or to take care--the mayor, the city council. They say they did about $8,000 this year on this warming shelter, I mean this warming booth, that ain't working, ‘cause some of the people over here is coming from up here at this Bartle Hall thing, and they prefer to come out here in the cold than to be there. And $7 million to these homeless shelters--with $7 million ain't nobody trying to fix the homeless problem. With $7 million and over 10,000 homes, I mean, empty homes in Kansas City that's not doing nothing, $7 million will get every homeless person in Kansas City a home and get the home upgraded so it could pass city inspection, and the city even own water, so they could give us six months of free water, during this COVID thing that they say they trying to cure, that they say is a national emergency, but ain't nobody trying to fix the problem.
When they put us in hotels, it don't benefit us. There ain't nobody and no homeless camp that I know, even the camp that Sixx died at, ain't nobody from that camp been in no hotel or nobody that nobody knows, so basically they putting probably their grandkids or people that they know sleeping on the couch or whatever in hotels, ‘cause (it) ain't nobody on the street. All of us still out here, you know, and that's not solving the problem anyway. but when they do that, we don't benefit.
Even if they put us in the hotel for a few days, we still would be homeless, you know, and that's like, I mean there's some dumbass shit that they're doing. And they say they doing it in the name of us, and they not talking to us or asking us. We closer to the problem. We closer to the solution.
And if you ask us, we would go simply buy homes, get them upgraded, you know, to pass inspection, and even hire some of the homeless people to help renovate them. And that would solve the problem.
But ain't trying to do that, or they ain't trying to do that. When they put us in hotels, the hotels benefit, not us. When they talk about programs to fix us, ain't nobody fixing us. We ain't broke. The motherfucking system broke. You know what I'm saying? And they just giving each other money, passing it along.
You know, and they're doing it in the name of us, and all we saying is we got a voice, and we're gonna use it. And as soon as we unionize, we was going to occupy City Hall because, like other people that was doing this, we ain't got nowhere else to go.
We're already homeless, you know, and so based on that, all we're gonna do is keep recruiting more people to come here to this, you know, this is our house. And so we're gonna live here. My current address is 414 East 12th Street, City Hall, homeless at large.”
Per an announcement from Kansas City Homeless United on Friday night, February 5, power to the camp had been shut off, then later restored. The camp was requesting a generator to be able to ensure power given the freezing temperatures projected for the upcoming week.
Published on: 2/6/2021
Crisis at KU: GTAC Stands in Solidarity Against More Cuts, More Pain
2/2/2021- Lawrence, Kansas
Published on: 2/2/2021
City Council Votes on Affordable Housing, Permanent Housing for Houseless Population, Vaccine Distribution, More
1/28/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
The Kansas City, Missouri City Council passed several resolutions and ordinances related to housing and houselessness during its regular meeting on Thursday, January 28. Per Kansas City, Missouri legislative proceedings, all new ordinances will go into effect eight days following passage.
Affordable Housing Policy
The council discussed Ordinance 201038, “Requiring that projects which are primarily residential in nature and are seeking economic incentives in the nature of the capture and redirection, abatement or exemption of taxes or other City financing contain a minimum number of affordable housing units.”
Councilwoman Andrea Bough, Vice Chair of the Neighborhood Planning & Development Committee, elaborated on the specific requirements: “Any multifamily housing development project of more than 10 units that seeks incentives would be required to set aside 10 percent of those units at 70 percent Area Median Income (AMI) and 10 percent at 30 percent AMI.”
This affordable housing measure is significant for low-to-moderate income families in Kansas City, Missouri because the development of affordable housing--defined as housing in which a household spends no more than 30% of their income on housing costs, including utilities--is typically not highly profitable for developers. For this and other reasons, there is a steep shortage of affordable housing throughout the country. As a stopgap measure, local, state, and federal governments try to provide incentives for developers to lower the price tag on new units they construct.
During the January 28 meeting, Mayor Quinton Lucas offered an amendment to the affordable housing ordinance, which among other things exempts projects that are receiving Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and projects involving historic buildings from the requirement. The amendment also states that projects that have already applied for incentives “aren’t subject to the ordinance if they received final written award within three years of the effective date.” The effective date was set by this amendment at April 8, 2021.
In speaking to the amendment, Lucas referred to “housing advocates” who have asked for the city to “have a stronger commitment to the provision of affordable housing.” He said these advocates supported ordinances in 2017 and 2018 relating to affordable housing but that those ordinances in some cases were inadequate. “It is time to commit for this city to progress on affordable housing,” Lucas said in closing his comments.
Permanent Housing for Houseless Population
The Council also passed a resolution that asks the Parks and Recreation Department to “assess their land” for a possible site to establish “permanent municipal housing for homeless.” The Department would report back in 90 days with their findings.
Although the dangers faced by people experiencing houselessness are ongoing, after the exposure-related deaths of two Kansas City citizens this winter, local groups have pointed to regular sweeps conducted by the city as a key component of the problem. The city has not responded to inquiries regarding whether sweeps they conducted could have been causes of these deaths.
Parks are among the places people without a place to stay tend to gather. Some have reasoned that people who need a space to set up camp should be able to camp in parks because others are not likely to be using the space, especially during the winter and at night.
The resolution for permanent housing for houseless people on city parklands was initiated by Council member Brandon Ellington, Vice Chair of the Special Committee on Housing Policy.
Task Force to Coordinate Services for Houseless Population
The Council also passed a resolution to convene a “Homelessness Task Force” to coordinate and improve services for houseless people. Council member Ellington cited the “need for better coordination” among the nearly two dozen agencies citywide that provide services for houseless people.
The Mayor will nominate the members of the proposed task force, with the following requirements:
Two City Council members
Parks and Recreation Department representatives
Police Department representatives
Neighborhood and Housing Services Department representatives
Health Department representatives
“Any other related document or external agency,” according to Ellington
The City Manager will also be asked to work with the task force. The task force is directed to convene its first meeting before February 12, 2021.
Vaccine Distribution Task Force
The Council also passed a resolution relating to vaccine distribution that would establish a task force to distribute the vaccine in partnership with the Health Department and other public health organizations. Missouri has been noted in the media in recent weeks for its failure to distribute vaccines quickly.
The Council also accepted a federal grant on behalf of Rose Brooks, which works to prevent domestic violence. Some debate ensued in the Council meeting as to whether the city approves pass-through funding and technical assistance to a wide enough variety of organizations; Council member Ellington emphasized the need for the city to provide such partnership to smaller grassroots organizations that don’t have the resources to apply for essential or capacity-building funding.
Other items passed during the January meeting included:
Extension of paid leave for city employees needing to quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure or contraction
Extension for small business license renewal payments
Approval of contracts to perform aerial mapping to assist in planning city infrastructure projects
Acceptance and amendment of two grant awards relating to preparation for epidemics
Amendments to contracts with vendors engaged on development projects
Appropriation of funds (over $14M) to provide rental assistance to families impacted by COVID-19, as discussed in Legislative Session.
Authorization of funds for a blight study in the Santa Fe neighborhood
Previous to the council meeting, In the January Legislative Session included a presentation from John Wood, Director of the city’s Neighborhood and Housing Services Department. Wood provided detail about the $14M in new federal funding for rent and utility assistance, including:
90% of the funding must be used for direct assistance to COVID-19 impacted families at or below 80% AMI.
“Rent or utility assistance” is defined as payment of rent or utility costs (including home energy costs, trash removal, and utilities covered by the landlord, but not including phone, internet, cable, or cell phone bills)
10% of the funding will be eligible to cover administrative costs for the city in distributing the funding
The funding will mainly be applied through social service providers such as United Way of Greater Kansas City and Community Development Corporation (CDC) partners.
Households may receive up to 12 months of consecutive assistance dating back to March, 2020, and may be considered for up to three months of additional assistance depending on their circumstances.
Landlords, utility companies, or tenants may apply for the funding for a given unit, but no more than one party may apply for funding on the same unit
Council member Teresa Loar expressed concern that tenants are able to apply for funding directly, noting that, if the money is not disbursed directly to landlords and utility companies, “the money might not go to the landlord”; Wood responded that there are guidelines in place to ensure the money is applied to bills as intended.
Any member of the public can attend City Council meetings in person or review the proceedings online on the city’s website or YouTube channel. Recordings of most meetings are archived at: http://kansascity.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2
Published on: 2/2/2021
In Memoriam: Scott “Sixx” Eicke
1/23/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
“He was just a guy with a dog trying to live his best life,” is how one friend, Kendra Lawrence, described Scott “Sixx” Eicke, who died from exposure on January 1, 2021. His body was found in the snow during New Year’s Day’s snowstorm, just hours after protesters gathered outside Mayor Quinton Lucas’ house demanding a stop to sweeps of houseless camps—like the ones where Sixx lived—especially during the coldest weeks of the year.
Although the city has downplayed recent sweeps and said that they do not take belongings from houseless individuals, houseless advocacy groups like Kansas City Homeless United have pushed back, citing continued sweeps and issuing demands from houseless individuals for better response and service from the city. Other activists, led by Creative Innovative Entrepreneurs, started the Scott Eicke Warming Center, which is providing overnight shelter, meals, and other services to houseless individuals at 1124 E. 5th Street, KCMO 64106. Currently, the center is open 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. on any day that is below 32 degrees.
Sixx’s ex-wife, Michelle Eicke, said she hopes that sharing Sixx’s story will help Kansas City better understand and be able to help people experiencing houselessness. And, she said she hopes the city will “cut through the red tape” that prevents people like Sixx from getting services.
“This is a needless death. Nobody deserves to die by freezing to death,” she said.
Michelle explained that while Sixx would have been glad for warming centers and better resources for those experiencing houselessness, he himself was a quiet, reserved animal lover who never wanted to stand out but always found ways to show love to those he cared about.
His stepson, Carlos Glasgow, agreed, and said he remembers Sixx’s “unwavering spirit.”
“He was really just there for us,” Glasgow said.
Glasgow is holding a fundraiser stream via Twitch on January 31, 2021, from 12 p.m. to midnight. He and his friend will be streaming a full playthrough of Borderlands. The fundraiser will benefit Kansas City Heroes, which offers a variety of services to individuals in Kansas City, including those experiencing houselessness. He said he and Sixx used to play video games together often—especially the Call of Duty and God of War games—and he feels like doing a stream is something Sixx would appreciate.
Lawrence, a volunteer with Free Hot Soup KC, is also working on a fundraiser to honor one of Sixx’s passions: animals. She is raising funds in collaboration with NAWS and Angel Hearts to provide veterinary care and other resources for the pets of houseless individuals.
“He had a lot of love to give,” she said of Sixx. “He was really quiet, but when it really counted, he really did care.”
Seth Thompson, a family friend, agreed. “If you needed anything, he would be the first person to give it to you,” he said of Sixx. “I want everybody to know he had the biggest heart I’ve ever seen.”
While Sixx often came off quiet and reserved in conversations, his relationship with animals was quite the opposite. “He would do anything to try to avoid conversations—except that dog,” Michelle said.
“That dog” referred to Debo, a pit bull Sixx had found and adopted. Once, when Sixx was arrested while walking with his bicycle because he “matched the description of somebody who stole a bicycle,” as Lawrence explained it, the police took Sixx and left Debo on the sidewalk. Lawrence said Debo paced the spot, waiting for Sixx to come back, until Free Hot Soup volunteers found her and picked her up. After police released Sixx, calling the incident a “misunderstanding,” according to Lawrence, Sixx and Debo were reunited.
Lawrence said Debo was in some ways the start of her friendship with Sixx. She said when she and other Free Hot Soup volunteers came to serve meals, Sixx and Debo would both come, and Sixx would always share his meals with the pit bull.
“He was really quiet, and he would take specifically what he wanted, and go and sit and eat by himself with his dog… I would see him, you know, feeding his dog off his own plate,” she said.
Lawrence, who herself works in the veterinary field and said she often comes across people who mistreat animals, said she was struck by Sixx’s kindness and attention to Debo. She began offering dog food and, eventually, other supplies. She was also able to work with NAWS to get veterinary care for Debo. When they went to take Debo to the vet, however, Lawrence said Sixx insisted on going with. She said she and another Free Hot Soup volunteer ended up driving around all day with Sixx and another houseless friend of theirs, Felix, passing out supplies and singing in the car at the top of their lungs.
Eventually, Sixx started asking Lawrence for supplies for other animals, including a dog named Princess. Lawrence said she assumed Princess was another dog in one of the houseless camps—only to find out, later, that Sixx was taking supplies to Michelle’s home for the dog he had rescued years prior.
“Whenever stuff got rough, he would always make sure my family was fed and the dogs were fed,” Glasgow explained.
Thompson said Sixx had a particular love for pit bulls. “He absolutely loved animals, especially pit bulls, because he felt like they were misunderstood,” he said. “He understood that all they wanted to do was be loved.”
According to Glasgow, it wasn’t even just dogs; Sixx loved all kinds of animals. Glasgow recalled one Fourth of July when he and his family were stopped at a traffic light and saw a kitten walking across the street. Michelle had Sixx go get the kitten, and they brought it home.
“He’s allergic to cats, and he didn’t really like cats at all,” Glasgow explained. “(But) once I started nursing the kitten back to health, I would just see them sleeping together and stuff, and him just being sweet on the cat that he supposedly hated.”
“He still tried to pretend he didn’t like cats,” Glasgow added.
Glasgow said he and his sister would often find stray animals and bring them home, knowing that Sixx would always agree to let them stay. Michelle said the oldest dog she currently has, Princess, is another of Sixx’s rescues.
“(She) was caged in someone’s basement,” Michelle said. “She wasn’t potty trained or anything like that, and he took the time not only to do that but to teach the kids how to do it, and that—that was Scott.”
“He Was a Fighter His Whole Life.”
Michelle said Sixx first experienced houselessness in his teen years, in Omaha, Nebraska, where he had grown up. “He had to learn to survive, and that was…his mistrust of people pretty much started at that point,” she said. “He was not a very trusting person. That was kind of his safeguard, was just to not trust anybody. He trusted animals. He would trust his dog. But he would never trust people.”
Michelle explained Sixx was adopted into his stepfather’s family at an early age and struggled with the dynamics of being Black in a predominantly white family. Michelle said Sixx quickly tired of questions about why he was in a predominantly white space, why he had a German last name, or “how tall are you?” Eventually, he found ways to avoid some of those questions, going by “Sixx”—a reference to his height—instead of his stepfather’s last name.
“(He would always say) don’t hurt yourself; just call me Sixx,” Michelle explained. “It was just easier, because he didn’t like to have, (as) he would call them, stupid conversations about his height.”
She said he learned early in his life not to trust people and to try to avoid conversations, questions, and the discrimination and racism that often came with them.
From early childhood to experiencing houselessness as a teenager to struggles moving between Omaha and Kansas City, Michelle said Sixx was always fighting to survive—and that he helped her survive houselessness, too.
“He went through strides to make sure that (what happened to him as a child) never, ever happened to another child,” she said.
“He was on his way to trying to make himself better, but after 41 years of pure torture, it was hard,” she said. “He was a fighter his whole life. He fought for everything.”
Coming to Kansas City
It was Sixx who brought the family to Kansas City, Michelle explained. At the time, she was struggling with a drug addiction, and he wanted to get her out of that environment. She said he helped her get her children out of the foster care system as she and Sixx were getting on their feet. Eventually, he stayed at home with them while she worked.
“He was my stepdad, but he was living with us for so long that he was our dad,” Glasgow explained. “It was just normal, which is what I’d been wanting since me and my sister were in foster care for so long.”
Michelle said that Sixx always pushed education, and tried to be involved in whatever way he could. School had been difficult for Sixx, even though Michelle said he was always good at numbers. However, by the time he was recruited by a college to play basketball, she said he still could barely read. Once he injured his knee and could no longer play, she said he dropped out and never went back to school.
“He was one of the children that got left behind,” she said. “For most of his adult life, you know, he was scared of taking his GED, but he was a brilliant man.”
“He really was interested in teaching me a lot about just, life, and sort of the kind of man that I was supposed to be, even though he kind of lacked in some of those areas, and I felt like those were really genuine actions,” Glasgow said.
Thompson said Sixx’s kindness changed his life. He met Sixx and Michelle shortly after moving to Kansas City from Texas. He was houseless in the middle of December, and he said he found few avenues for assistance in Kansas City.
“I was hungry, and I was struggling real bad, and Carlos picked me up and called Sixx and Michelle, and he asked them if I could move in with them,” he explained. “(Sixx) just immediately made me feel comfortable...I felt like I finally had a family.”
Thompson said he remembers arriving at Sixx and Michelle’s house and Sixx asking what size clothes and shoes he wore. He said he and Sixx were a similar size, and Sixx went to his room and got clothes and shoes for him.
“He basically legitimately gave me the clothes off his back...he sat there and consoled me while I was crying,” he said. “It was definitely one of those life-changing moments.”
He said he and Sixx would spend hours talking about their pasts, having shared similar backgrounds and struggles, including becoming houseless around the same age.
“He just told me I wasn’t alone,” Thompson said. “He didn’t judge me for anything.”
Sixx’s care for those around him extended to his neighbors in the houseless camps, too. Lawrence recalled several times where Sixx would ask her and the other Free Hot Soup volunteers to check on a woman in the camp who has schizophrenia, especially if she was having a difficult day and wouldn’t come to get supplies on her own.
“He always watched out for her, because she was kind of easy for somebody to take advantage of, or to not ask for things because she was scared,” Lawrence explained. “And so you have to interact with her differently and be more quiet and kind of ground her to understand what's going on. And so he always watched out for her.”
“Even though it seems as though he has a rough experience, once you get to know him, you sort of understand that he acts in a way that protects the ones he loved,” Glasgow said of his stepdad. “And even when he has all those issues plaguing him, even when he messes up, when he wants to do something or wants to be there for someone, he will—period.”
Barriers to Housing
Unfortunately, Sixx’s love of animals also meant he had difficulties finding shelter at times. Most shelters in Kansas City don’t allow pets, Lawrence explained. At one point, she said Sixx camped outside a shelter in Kansas City because he wouldn’t leave Debo alone. He would go inside to get warm or to eat, but stayed outside.
Nor are pets the only barrier to finding shelter. Lawrence said anything from too many misdemeanors—including those from, for example, stealing food when there are no other options—to lack of comprehensive supports for transitioning from houselessness to housing to shelters’ constrictive rules often lead to people not being able to find shelter of any kind, and certainly not long term.
Michelle also noted the challenges that many shelters and other service providers pose when they demand that everyone deal with trying to get housing in the same way.
“What kind of rules are you going to have to follow that I'm not going to be comfortable with? Because right now, I'm kind of in my own shell and my own little world where I'm the boss. Now, you want me to live under some kind of control, (and) I'm not sure how I feel like that because I've been out of control before, and I've been in control, and in control feels better. I mean, I can only imagine that's what he was thinking,” she said.
But perhaps one of the most substantial difficulties Sixx and other houseless individuals faced were camp sweeps. Michelle explained that being houseless already placed massive emotional and mental demands on someone, with a constant worry about where to sleep, where to shower, how to get food and other supplies, how to charge a phone to be able to stay connected with loved ones, and other concerns. Sweeps, however, could remove any sense of stability in an instant.
“He just said that (if) he went to sleep or (go) do something, if he left anything behind, it was gone,” Michelle said.
Although city officials and employees have insisted the city does not take houseless individuals’ possessions and that they offer shelter and other services when sweeping camps, Lawrence said the reports she hears from other houseless individuals are different.
“What they’d do is they’d just, like, bulldoze it. Like literally, everything's gone,” she said. “You would have never guessed that anybody was living there. And they just completely bulldoze everything…all their supplies, it’s just like a little wall in the ground.”
Lawrence said she doesn’t refer to these events as sweeps; she calls them raids.
“And then you have the police officers who are standing there, then they watch the city do their whole thing,” she said. “So that's why I call them raids: because if you were in your home, and the police are standing there and letting the city go through and take all your belongings, what would that feel like?”
Glasgow said he remembers reading about his father’s death, including the response from the city which noted that camping is not allowed in parks.
“I don’t understand, because I’m like, even if it wasn’t homeless camps, why are you trying to push these people out of something that isn’t even a complete shelter when people don’t even go to city parks 1) in the middle of a pandemic and 2) in the middle of fucking winter?” he said.
“I didn’t know how to interpret it any other way than the city just 100% not caring,” he said. “It felt like my dad’s identity was being erased.”
Michelle said one of the last messages she received from Sixx read, “I feel like the city is trying to kill us. They’re not doing a whole lot for homeless people.”
Thompson said that while Sixx’s death came as a shock, he also sees what happened as connected to longstanding problems in Kansas City.
“He made it sound like everything was okay...He didn’t really talk about his problems to other people. I feel like he didn’t want to bother them or hurt anybody’s feelings,” he said, explaining his last conversation with Sixx, about a week and a half before Sixx died. “(But) this isn’t a new problem in Kansas City. This isn’t something that happened overnight. I don’t feel like the city is doing enough.”
Glasgow agreed. “Scott was loved, so even though he was homeless at the time, he wasn’t going to stay that way,” he said. “(But) I’m thinking about other people that probably don’t have stuff that was already being put in motion (for Scott).”
Glasgow said that while he appreciates the work of activists, it’s the city he holds responsible for the lack of resources for the unhoused in Kansas City.
“I haven’t seen anything good from the city that the city actually put their name on,” he said. “Why do activists have to put something together on their own? The only reason activists are a thing is people in power showing that they don’t care, so instead of leaving it to the activists to do something, take the reins.”
“The same people that think paying for hotels is solving the problem are the same kinds of people that don’t think homeless people should be able to camp in parks at least in the middle of the winter,” he said. “Those kinds of solutions appeal to people that just don’t want to look at these human beings.”
The solutions for situations like Scott’s, Glasgow said, aren’t in city hall—but city hall needs to listen.
“If you’ve never been homeless and struggling, then you are 100 percent not qualified to manage homeless or struggling people,” he said. “Instead of having a conversation with people who can afford to take showers and live in a home…ask the people who actually need the help what they want. That’s the easiest way to both show that you care and get the job done.”
Published on: 1/23/2021
KC Tenants Call for Local Judge to End Evictions
1/19/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Protesters with KC Tenants hang a banner outside the home of Judge Kyndra Stockdale on Tuesday, January 19, demanding she put a stop to evictions on the docket in her courtroom.
Photo by Andrei Stoica
Kansas City activist group KC Tenants led a protest in front of Judge Kyndra Stockdale’s house Tuesday night, demanding that evictions be halted until the end of the pandemic.
About 60 protesters met in a nearby parking lot and marched through the Mission Hills neighborhood, chanting: “Judge Stockdale, where do you stand? The people are dying. You have blood on your hands.”
Organizers with KC Tenants say the protest focused on Judge Stockdale - an associate circuit judge in Independence, Missouri - because she has evicted more tenants than many other judges in the Kansas City metro. According to a press release issued by KC Tenants on January 19, 2021, Stockdale has heard 835 eviction cases since June of 2020 and “issued formal eviction judgments against more than 361 tenants.”
KC Tenants Director Tara Raghuveer also pointed to Judge Stockdale’s role in the injury of Blue Springs resident Donald Smith, who was shot three times by Jackson County court deputies during an eviction in early January.
“[Stockdale] is the judge,” Raghuveer said, “who issued a judgment …that resulted in him getting shot during his eviction.”
Tuesday’s protest is part of a larger effort on the part of KC Tenants. “Here in Kansas City, the CDC moratorium didn’t stop evictions,” said a KC Tenants leader who identified herself as Sierra. “The pressure we’ve been able to finally apply to these judges has made a difference in Jackson County.”
KC Tenants also rallied in front of Judge Dale Youngs’ house on January 8 to demand an “end to eviction violence.”
Several days later, Youngs issued an administrative order delaying eviction summons, hearings and writs of execution until January 24, 2021.
Raghuveer says KC Tenant’s demands on Tuesday were that evictions in Kansas City, Missouri be halted “indefinitely.”
“We don’t know when the pandemic’s going to be over,” she said, “so there’s no point putting an arbitrary end date on there.”
After arriving at Judge Stockdale’s home, protesters stood on the lawn in front of the building with signs calling for Stockdale and other judges to stop evictions.
While they stood on the lawn, several protesters spoke about the need for secure housing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tiana Caldwell, a KC Tenants leader, talked about how her brother died after contracting COVID-19 in jail. According to Caldwell, he had been taken off probation in December of 2020 “for not having a permanent address.”
“My brother’s story,” Caldwell said, “is the story of so many of us who are insecurely housed, living on the edge, forced to make impossible choices between our lives and our homes.”
Caldwell called for Judge Stockdale to petition Judge Youngs to extend his administrative order beyond January 24.
“Judge Stockdale,” Caldwell said, “My life is more important than private property… You have the power to end evictions, at least in your courtroom. You have the power to hold your colleagues accountable to do the same.”
Published on: 1/21/2021
"My Life is More Important Than My Landlord’s Profit": Local Tenant Asks for Eviction Moratorium Extension
1/19/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Protesters with KC Tenants gather outside the home of Judge Kyndra Stockdale, demanding that she delay evictions on her courtroom docket to protect tenants following the expiration of Jackson County Circuit Court’s Presiding Judge Dale Youngs’ administrative order suspending all evictions through January 24. KC Tenants reported that Stockdale has issued the highest number of eviction orders in Jackson County during the pandemic.
Photo by Andrei Stoica
Jackson County’s 16 Circuit Court Presiding Judge Dale Youngs’ administrative order suspending eviction summons, hearings, and writs of execution for Jackson County, Missouri will expire Sunday, January 24, 2020.
The order came following protests and other direct actions from housing rights group KC Tenants, who have declared this month Zero Evictions January. Most recently, the group held a protest Tuesday, January 19 outside Judge Kyndra Stockdale’s home, demanding that Stockdale delay all evictions cases on her docket.
At an earlier protest to block evictions hearings, on January 7, tenants from around Kansas City shared their stories on the steps of the Jackson County Courthouse.
One of those tenants, Jailin, talked about the consequences of facing eviction for both himself and for his three-year-old daughter. His speech from the event, released in a KC Tenants press release, is below:
“My name is Jailin. I have an eviction case in this courthouse (on) Thursday, January 14.
When COVID hit, my hours got cut back. My hours got cut back, and I had to make a choice on what I should take care of at that moment. It was a choice between rent and food. I chose to take care of me and my baby and make sure we could eat.
I thought I could get my rent payments back right, but by the time I had some money saved up, the eviction was already in process. When the landlord hit me with it, it was for way more than I thought. It just seems like I’m in a deeper hole, deeper hole. I’m just like damn.
I’m 23. I’m out here trying to make things right. My daughter is three years old. She shouldn’t have to have this memory. She shouldn’t be in this situation.
Now I have to focus on my daughter getting a secure place to lay her head at night. She’s gone come first before anything, anytime. As a father, I feel hurt with myself. It’s hard not to feel like I messed up, I did something wrong, (or) I failed to provide.
But I know that it’s not on me. It’s on the government that went dark on all of us and left us out here, forced to make choices like the one I had to make.
Next week? If this eviction goes down? I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know. One mark on my rental record can be really detrimental to my life. You know what I mean? There’s no way to recover. They make it so hard for you to get back right. Hoops and hurdles, phone calls, emails, a lot of more money and time … for what?
Here's what’s so crazy. PEOPLE ARE DYING. PEOPLE ARE DYING. And these landlords are like, ‘Well, even though people are dying, we still need to get this money.’
My life is more important than my landlord’s profit. Period. My daughter’s life is more important than my landlord’s profit. PERIOD.”
Published on: 1/20/2021
“I Need Your Solidarity, Kansas City”: Evicted Kansas City Tenant Asks for End to Evictions
1/7/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City tenant Keonya (left) and KC Tenants organizer Jenay Manley (right) speak at a Zero Evictions January protest on January 7, 2021.
Photo by Andrei Stoica
Jackson County’s 16 Circuit Court Presiding Dale Youngs’ administrative order suspending eviction summons, hearings, and writs of execution for Jackson County, Missouri will expire Sunday, January 24, 2020.
The order came on the heels of multiple direct actions from housing rights group KC Tenants, who have declared this month Zero Evictions January. At a protest to block evictions hearings on January 7, tenants from around Kansas City shared their stories on the steps of the Jackson County Courthouse.
One of those tenants, Keonya, talked about the consequences of facing eviction for herself and for her four children. Her speech from the event, released in a KC Tenants press release, is below:
“My name is Keonya. I am currently homeless, living with my four children in a 2006 Impala.
I was evicted some months ago from the Blue Valley Townhomes over on 23rd. The situation was that my son’s friend got shot and ran over to our place for help. I wasn’t home. I rushed home to make sure my son’s friend survived. Everything was taped off, and the police were there.
The next day, the apartment said “you got 10 days to get out.” It didn’t matter that I saved a boy’s life. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t me or my family who brought the cops to the building. They just wanted me gone.
It was hard being forced to move during the pandemic. It was hard. It was hard. It was hard. I tried applying to live everyplace I could. No one would take me due to the recent eviction.
My kids are not okay. I’m a single parent living in a car with a 4-year-old, a 12-year-old, a 17-year-old, and a 19-year-old. It’s hard when you wake up and you don’t know where you’re going to brush your teeth and wash your butt. The kids ask me all the time: “when are we gonna get a house.” I can see the depression in my four year old daughter’s face.
If I was the judge—if I had power to end evictions—I would do it. I would stop the evictions. No questions. I would stop it. It’s a disease out here! You don’t know who got it. I can’t stay to stay healthy if I don’t have a home.
People don’t look out for you the way you look out for them. That’s the lesson I learned in 2020.
Kansas City, I need you to prove me wrong. I need you to have my back. I need you to have the backs of people like me who have been forced to the streets. I’m here to put my pride aside and say I need you. I need your solidarity, Kansas City.”
Published on: 1/19/2021
KCMO Activists Deliver Petition Calling for Senator Josh Hawley's Resignation
1/13/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Protesters call for Missouri Senator Josh Hawley's resignation after delivering a petition to his office in Kansas City, Missouri on January 13.
Photo by Andrei Stoica
Local Kansas City, Missouri activists from multiple organizations presented a petition on January 13 to remove Senator Josh Hawley. Hawley headed the effort to object to the Electoral College certification, an action that helped fuel the acts of insurrection and domestic terrorism that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
Ashley Johnson of Reale Justice Network said delivering the petition was a statement on Missouri’s commitment to resisting racism. “We will not accept the racism that was shown, that was displayed. Missouri won’t stand for that,” she said. “We will not stand for treason. We will not stand for any of that.”
The groups including Veterans For Peace and Our Revolution Kansas City joined Reale Justice Network across the street from the Charles Evans Whittaker Courthouse in downtown Kansas City to hand deliver the signatures to staff working for Hawley. A protest also took place with speakers voicing their demand that Hawley resign. In a statement released by Veterans for Peace they addressed not only the violence but also “a deeply entrenched and longstanding system of white supremacy.”
For Veterans for Peace, Wednesday’s protest is connected to a broader commitment to fighting white supremacy in the U.S. military.
“As veterans ourselves, we have seen how white supremacy and violence are perpetuated in the U.S. military,” they said in their statement. “The U.S. military continues to be an active recruitment tool for violent extremism and hate groups. This culture of toxicity, often fully embraced and/or condoned by military leadership continues to be a pipeline to violent right wingers, border patrol and police. We know that this pathway to violence must stop...Let's help create a community that is an alternative to bigoted violence and pursue an egalatarian solution to our common root problems.”
Drew Bergerson of Our Revolution Kansas City spoke on how Hawley’s actions supported both fascism and white supremacy.
“I am in mourning, because I'm a Jewish man, and these so called patriots wore Neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic symbols, including a shirt saying “Camp Auschwitz,” days after a Jewish man and a Black man were elected senators in the state of Georgia,” he said. “I am in mourning because my partner is a Black woman, and these white supremacists proudly flew emblems of the KKK while hoisting a noose on a gallows to hinder the legal election of the first woman of color.”
“It's time for armchair progressives and modern liberals to stop promising change in the future and get to work making the structural changes we need to protect our environment, our economy, our bodies and our society,” he added.
At the time of publication, Hawley has not made a statement about resigning despite losing the support of some of his major donors including Hallmark Cards and Commerce Bank. Hawley has also had other business partners such as the former publisher of his now canceled book distance themselves following the failed coup attempt on the Capitol.
Published on: 1/16/2021
KC Tenants Protests Jackson County Evictions Hearings
1/7/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Protesters gather outside Jackson County Courthouse to disrupt evictions hearings slated for January 7, 2021. The event was part of KC Tenants' Zero Evictions January initiative.
Photo by Andrei Stoica
On Thursday, January 7, KC Tenants, a multiracial housing rights advocacy group, staged an online and onsite protest against eviction cases being heard at the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City, Missouri. In spite of the CDC’s eviction moratorium through January 31, evictions have continued. The 16th Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri was set to hear 219 eviction cases on the Landlord/Tenant docket.
KC Tenants activists flooded the online courtrooms to disrupt eviction hearings and force delays in cases, some until next week. At the same time, a group of protesters gathered outside Jackson County Courthouse, blockading the entrance and announcing to any trying to enter, “The court is closed today.”
“If the judges won’t end evictions, we’ll do it for them, by any means necessary,” said Ameerah Sanders, a KC Tenants leader.
Several tenants shared their stories of facing eviction during a pandemic.
“When COVID hit, my hours got cut back. My hours got cut back, and I had to make a choice on what I should take care of at that moment. It was a choice between rent and food. I chose to take care of me and my baby and make sure we could eat,” said Jailin Willis, a tenant facing eviction next Thursday, January 14. “My life is more important than my landlord’s profit. Period. My daughter’s life is more important than my landlord’s profit. Period.”
“If I was the judge—if I had power to end evictions—I would do it. I would stop the evictions. No questions. I would stop it,” said Keonya McIntosh, a mother of four who was recently evicted and is currently experiencing homeless.
“Kansas City is better than this. I know it is,” said Kenneth Gobble, who was recently facing eviction after having his hours cut due to the pandemic. He has been granted an extension until the beginning of February, but said he isn’t sure what he will do then if the city does not step in with a more substantial moratorium through the end of the pandemic.
Thursday’s event was the second court disruption KC Tenants has organized in 2021, with the first being on Tuesday, January 5 in Independence, Missouri, where KC Tenants activists delayed 103 evictions on the docket for Eastern Jackson County Courthouse.
Thursday’s event kicks off KC Tenants’ “Zero Evictions January” initiative, which includes protests, rallies, email campaigns, and other advocacy work around ending evictions for residents of the Kansas City metro.
Published on: 1/8/2021
Two houseless people found dead during cold weather over New Year’s weekend in KCMO
1/3/2021- Kansas City, Missouri
Local activists stand across the street from Mayor Quinton Lucas's residence on December 31 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri
Photo by Andrei Stoica
“How many of our friends are going to have to die before they decide that they’re going to make a change?” is the question Lindsey Cattanach of Free Hot Soup--along with other houselessness advocacy groups--is asking of the city following two deaths of houseless individuals over New Year’s weekend. The deaths come on the heels of city sweeps of houseless camps in Kansas City, Missouri.
The first person, who went by “Sixx,” was found dead on Friday, January 1 with the second discovered by volunteers from Free Hot Soup performing a wellness check on Sunday, January 3. The second individual was found inside an abandoned building, and their identity has not yet been released, although volunteers reported that the body was nearly unrecognizable. Police confirmed that the most recent sweep of houseless camps was December 26.
Sixx has been described as a kind, loving person who loved animals, especially his dog, Debo.
Cattanach said she didn’t know him personally, but several other members of Free Hot Soup did. “Everything I’ve heard about is him laughing and having a good time,” she said. “He was a very loving and kind individual, and he really cared about animals.”
Cattanach said she wasn’t sure if Sixx had been in the camp during the most recent sweep, but confirmed that he had been in the camp for several sweeps in recent months.
“I know that his area has been swept multiple times,” she said. “He has been hit with frostbite multiple times, so it was hard for him to walk around...I believe that all the sweeps were a cause of his death.”
Cattanach also said it was a member of her team who was first contacted regarding the second death this week. The name of the individual has not been released, but Cattanach said a houseless friend reached out to a member of Free Hot Soup.
“One of our volunteers got a phone call to go check on someone in this abandoned building,” Cattanach explained. “She did, and when she got there, she found him deceased.” The volunteer then called the police, who confirmed the death. They have not yet released the name.
City Failures in Addressing Houselessness
Cattanach stressed the negative impact of multiple, intersecting failures in the city’s response to houselessness, starting with the sweeps.
“The problem is they’re taking away all of their elements of survival,” she said. “I have many, many friends down there (in the camps) that have been affected by the sweeps.”
She said that often, her houseless friends will be at appointments with caseworkers or mental health professionals, or be trying to get ID or other resources, and sweeps will occur while they’re gone.
“They come back, and their whole area is destroyed,” Cattanach said.
Although city officials have said the sweeps also aim to offer assistance to houseless individuals, including referrals to shelters, Cattanach said these resources are severely lacking.
“You can keep pushing them out of their (camps), but until you provide them with a safe place to go, this isn’t going to be solved,” she said. She recounted a host of barriers her houseless friends have shared in seeking shelter in Kansas City, ranging from shelters not accepting people with pets, like Sixx, to many shelters not accepting those with mental health issues or medical conditions.
“That knocks out the majority of people that we serve,” Cattanach said.
Even if her houseless friends are eligible to stay in a shelters, Cattanach said cutoff times--requiring houseless individuals to call by a certain time in order to be eligible for a spot in a shelter--along with overcrowding and understaffing that leads to high rates of drug use, theft, and rape in shelters, often causes her friends to avoid shelters.
And if they’re eligible and want to stay in a shelter, Cattanach said the barriers still aren’t over. COVID-19 has reduced capacity for many shelters, leading to many instances of Cattanach and her team spending hours on the phone trying to find shelter for one of their houseless friends, only to be told repeatedly there is no room. Even if they can get placement, barriers such as mobility issues due to repeated instances of frostbite also pose substantial barriers to houseless individuals being able to get to a shelter safely.
“Stop the Sweeps”
For Cattanach stopping the sweeps on houseless camps should only be the start of the response from the city.
“All that seems to be happening is (saying) ‘we need to get them out of here, let’s push them out of here,’ and that’s not fair,” she said. “We all deserve the same amount of humanity regardless of where we live. I should not get more humanity just because I live in a house than my friend who lives under a bridge.”
Cattanach said she wants the city to rethink the way it addresses houselessness.
“I would like for the city to at least say, ‘hey, let’s have a conversation about this,’” she said. She said that conversation would need to include the mayor but also waste management and parks and recreation as well as the health department, all of whom have contributed to the violence against houseless individuals in the city.
Most importantly, however, Cattanach said Kansas City’s houseless community needs to be at the table to develop support systems that would actually work for them.
“I can speak for them all day, but they have a voice,” she said. “They are not voiceless.”
Activists Address Houselessness
Activist and community organizer response to the deaths has been substantial, ranging from protesters connected to Creative Innovative Entrepreneurs gathering outside Mayor Quinton Lucas’ residence on December 31 in response to the sweeps in order to bring awareness to the risk from winter weather to email campaigns and open letters to the mayor. KC Tenants, which works on housing rights, is holding an anti-evictions protest on Thursday, January 7.
Other groups, like Free Hot Soup, work to provide food, hygiene products, blankets, and other necessities on an on-going basis. Cattanach said their group is intentionally not a non-profit, nor is it religiously or politically affiliated. She said their group hosts picnics, generally in parks, and also has a team that actively seeks out houseless camps to offer help, resources, and connection.
“A lot of the houseless community has come to rely on our picnics as a safe place,” she said.
She said Free Hot Soup maintains a volunteer base of food donors, mobile response volunteers, and servers, as well as using donations and Amazon wishlists to get the supplies they need to serve their houseless friends.
Published on: 1/5/2021
Creative Innovative Entrepreneurs Distribute Supplies Collected From Second Annual Clothing Drive
Andrei Stoica and Brynn Laurel
12/20/2020- Kansas City, Missouri
Anton Washington and other volunteers load supplies to be distributed to the houseless community in Kansas City, Missouri
Photo by Andrei Stoica
Creative Innovative Entrepreneurs held its second annual clothing drive for houseless residents of Kansas City, Missouri on Sunday, December 20. Anton Washington, Executive Director of Creative Innovative Entrepreneurs, said the drive ties into the organization’s broader work in the community, which primarily offers services for young adults in the Black community.
“Youth need to place their foot in the community to build,” he said. “We’re doing this for our city, our community, to bring our community hope.”
The drive resulted in about 120 bags being handed out at various camps and other locations around the city. The bags included supplies such as hand sanitizer, hand warmers, blankets, thermal underwear and other essentials. The group also handed out coats, shoes and sleeping bags.
“I got a coat for my daughter,” one woman said. “I’m happy now.”
Houselessness is a significant issue for both the metro and the state, with Missouri ranking higher in percentage (1.09 percent) of houseless individuals than most surrounding states (e.g., Kansas’ 0.42 percent). Of the over 6,000 people experiencing houselessness in Missouri, nearly 500 are veterans, over 475 are young adults (18-24) and over 1,000 experience chronic houselessness.
These statistics have led groups like Creative Innovative Entrepreneurs to consider houselessness—especially youth houselessness—as one of their primary areas of focus. The group works to provide resources specifically for the Black community in Kansas City, who disproportionately experience many of the systemic barriers that contribute to houselessness. For example, even though Black Kansas Citians comprise less than 30 percent of the population, they are over 40 percent of those living under the poverty line. Poverty is one of the most prominent risk factors for houselessness for youth and families.
Houselessness also significantly increases the risk of COVID-19 due to factors such as close living quarters, lack of access to healthcare and PPE, and increased risk of underlying health conditions. Washington said providing supplies and other assistance related to COVID-19—and the inequities it has exposed—would be a priority for his organization heading into 2021 as well.
Washington also said he hopes others will see the project and feel inspired to do similar work to support the houseless in the metro.
“What ideas we have will spread,” he said. “If people notice, they will get involved.”
He explained that, too often, disagreements among community members prevent initiatives like this one from gaining traction.
“Why are we bickering? Why have mentalities of division?” he asked. “We have to stick together.”
Ryan Sorrell of Black Rainbow, who partnered with Creative Innovative Entrepreneurs to support the drive, explained that initiatives like this drive are connected to other activist actions as well.
“I'm just incredibly appreciative of this initiative that Anton has put together for the houseless community,” he said. “It's incredibly important that people see—visibly see—the work that's being done in the community. And I think that this is so important, because a lot of times people see us out in the streets protesting. They see us at City Hall doing occupations. They see us calling for restructuring of power in the city. But they don't see the very positive things that are happening in the community. They don't see the mutual aid. They don't see the community building that's taking place.”
Creative Innovative Entrepreneurs has spearheaded related initiatives this month as well, including toy drives and other holiday events. They are continuing to collect donations and considering other ways to assist the community during the winter months.
For Washington, this type of involvement is crucial. He criticized city leadership for not being involved deeply enough with the communities they claim to serve.
“If you love us, put your ass in the community,” he said. “Don’t sit at your desk.”
For the event organizers, showing the community they were willing to listen to needs and show material support and care was key.
“We just want to be a beacon of hope for the city as well, and let people know that this is something that’s possible,” Sorrell said of Black Rainbow’s collaboration with Creative Innovative Entrepreneurs for the drive.
“You have to be in love with your people,” Washington said.
Published on: 12/23/2020
Four Squad Cars Stop Two Protesters Over Parking, No Trespassing Sign
12/11/2020- Kansas City, Missouri
KCPD officers detain two activists on December 11, following the Friday Night Protest at Kansas City, Missouri Police Headquarters.
Photo by Andrei Stoica
“I am so tired y'all. I fear for my family every goddamn day because I don't know if they're going to come home. I don't know if they're going to run into a racist cop one day that just wants to take them and that's terrifying,” said Ky Williams, an activist with White Rose KC, to a small group of protesters outside Kansas City, Missouri Police Headquarters on Friday, December 11. “There's so many people that are harassed, that are followed, that are beaten, that are brutalized every goddamn day, every day. And I'm sick of it. And we're going to keep coming out here, no matter if they put a chain right over this whole sidewalk.”
Williams was one of several activists who spoke during the regular Friday Night Protest, which holds a memorial for victims of KCPD brutality and then marches to chant outside the Jackson County Detention Center, where more than 80 percent (as of 2018 numbers) of inmates have not been convicted and thus are presumed innocent.
Williams and another protester with whom she was riding, Chris Bizzle Jr., were stopped by a group of more than four KCPD vehicles immediately following the protest. Bizzle said cops approached his car without turning their lights on, initially. They were asked to exit the car and were told they were being stopped because Williams had been trespassing. After waiting outside for about 30 minutes, according to Bizzle, Williams was ultimately given a citation for destruction of property for allegedly tearing down one of the “no trespassing” signs. Bizzle was cited for a parking violation and expired registration, both of which he is contesting.
Bizzle said he asked one of the officers how Williams’ actions would have been considered trespassing, since that’s what they were initially told she was being cited for. Bizzle said the officer responded with, “What if you had a flag at your house and somebody took it?”
But Bizzle said the police response—from the citations to how many officers came to stop them—didn’t make sense to him.
“They’re really mad over a paper, like it’s never that serious,” he said. “You can just go back in your office and print out another one and put it back on there.”
Although Friday’s protest saw the protester memorial set up along the chain link fence, protesters had, the previous week, set up their memorial by leaning their boards against the police monument inside the fence—a setup they had routinely used until the chain fence around the monument and the “no trespassing” signs—citing the city’s general trespassing ordinance—were added to the monument in September. The “no trespassing” signs were not present at the Friday Night Protest on December 4, but new signs had been posted by December 11.
For protesters like Williams, however, the signs say much more than “no trespassing.”
“That's a piece of paper that means more than the lives on these boards to them,” she told the crowd. “Eight fucking pieces of paper sitting right here mean more to those goddamn pigs in there than these lives that they stole, that they are continuing to take! We come out here because we want them to know that they're not going to just be able to get away with treating us like this anymore, that we're not letting it go silently, that we're not letting a life go in vain. It's not happening. No.”
“I'm not here to change the minds of the cops,” she continued. “I'm here to take their licenses so they can stop taking my brothers and sisters lives. It's not your responsibility to convince people that this is important. It is not your job to tell people that they need to understand, because at the end of the day, there are powers and the capabilities that each of us has, and we will continue to fight and continue to do this work, and the line will follow, because justice will be served—period. Period.”
Published on: 12/18/2020
Last Board of Police Commissioners Meeting of 2020 Sees All Measures Approved
12/8/2020- Kansas City, Missouri
File photo of Mayor Lucas at a BOPC meeting
Photo by Andrei Stoica
The last BOPC meeting for 2020 saw all measures pass before the board. The agenda was budget-related, ahead of the January 2021 collective bargaining agreement negotiations, including between the FOP and the city.
The board approved a general fund transfer, including Clay County COVID relief funds to finalize purchases before December 31, and two adjustments to special revenue accounts ahead of possible budget cuts. They also moved to accept a $900,000 donation from the Kansas City Police Foundation for the body camera initiative. KCPD announced in June that they had received enough donations to begin to implement body cameras. Kansas City also piloted body cameras in 2016, under the leadership of former police chief Darryl Forte.
The board also discussed other budget concerns, with Mayor Quinton Lucas flagging litigation costs as a key concern. He suggested the possibility of public disclosure for litigation settlements.
“What are we doing (is to) actually see some systemic change,” he said. “I would, of course, enjoy public disclosure of settlements for all city or related departments.”
The police department is also continuing its budget review process to discuss possible cuts, consolidation, and other budget-saving measures, which need to total about $30 million in budget savings to get to the city’s needed $70 million in cuts. Lucas expressed his support of the review as a strategy. He spoke of his experience with a similar process for the city budget, and said it was an important move in order “to avoid just doing something that I think could be far more draconian.”
“Much of the goal of this exercise is to see, well, where are their shared issues, shared savings, etc., so that we can address that, because something that will be very hard for the city to do is to simply say, well, we need to get to 70 (million); we will ignore 30 (million).”
However, Police Chief Rick Smith pushed back on the discussion of budget cuts, citing concerns about the rising crime rate in Kansas City.
“I look at this from, you know, I know there's a money aspect here, but I believe there's a safe city aspect also that must be taken into consideration,” he said.
Councilwoman Katheryn Shields responded to Smith, noting that all departments are experiencing budget cuts and many departments have already seen substantial percentages cut from their budgets. “No matter how critical (the police are) to having a safe city, so is having the money to fund trash pickup. If we can't fund trash pickup in the city. Then suddenly, we're not only going to have a city littered with trash, but we're going to have rats and disease that follow that,” she said. “You know, you all say now, and I think quite fairly, that you're given so many tasks, beyond just policing. But if we cut all of these…I think you're going to find many other things much harder for you all as well.”
Published on: 12/15/2020
Not One More: Trans Day of Remembrance Rally and March Held November 20
11/20/2020- Kansas City, Missouri
An audience gathers to listen to speakers at the Trans Day of Remembrance: Not One More Rally and March
Photo by Andrei Stoica
The Trans Day of Remembrance Not One More Rally and March was held Friday, November 20. The event began with speakers at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri.
Transgender Day of Remembrance began in 1999 following the murder of Rita Hester, a trans woman who had been killed the previous year. Trans rights activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith held the first event. It has run yearly since on November 20 to honor the lives of trans folx that were lost and bring awareness to the multifaceted, systemic issues that affect the trans community.
Speaker Skyler Whittaker, a local organizer who works with several organizations, including EQUAL Trans Support Group, said that as a disabled, trans activist, their work focuses on fighting for the “freedom both to make decisions about our own bodies and our lives and to make sure that everyone else has that freedom.”
“Some of us are a lot less free than others, so let's talk about which trans lives are the most risk,” they said. “Black and brown trans people are not free. Undocumented trans people are not free. Indigenous trans people and Two Spirit people are not free. Poor and working class trans people are not free. Disabled and mentally ill and neurodivergent trans people are not free. Homeless trans people are not free. HIV positive trans people are not free. Trans survivors (of) domestic violence are not free. Trans sex workers are not free. And in the most literal sense, incarcerated trans people, trans prisoners are not free…’Not one more’ needs to be not one more of these people.”
“Our society was never built for the most vulnerable members of our community to be able to survive,” they said.
Korea Kelly, a LGBTQIA historian and activist, asked attendees to say the names so that stories will not be forgotten. She talked about Aerrion Burnett, Breonna Be’Be Hill, Dee Dee Pearson, Faith Iman Scott, Brooklyn Lindsey, Tamara Domingas, Reese Walker, Jamagio Berryman, Nina Pop and others.
“Let’s not forget the names of those who live right here,” Kelly said, but stressed that Kansas City needed to support the trans community with more than words. “Stop talking about it and actually take action…It takes all of us as a community to stand together as one.”
Freddie Dolphus, a Black queer transman and personal trainer and martial arts instructor, asked attendees to “honor us while we are still alive.”
“It is time for us to really take a stand, not just when we go to protests,” he said. “When one is harmed, we all are harmed.”
Circe Johnson, another local activist, said that advocacy can’t just be for those who have been lost.
“Keep checking up on trans people while we’re alive,” she said. “Don’t give us our flowers when we die…don’t only care about us when we die.”
Viktor Gee, a trans activist who does healing work, also spoke of the need for community—especially now.
“It’s hard to exist right now, and it’s even harder to try to exist alone,” they said.
For Gee, that sense of community was part of the importance of Trans Day of Remembrance. “The goal right now is to take up more space,” they said. “While we're enjoying the space we begin to create for ourselves, we should open that up for the people who couldn't make it.”
After the rally, attendees marched on the sidewalk down to Community Christian Church. There was a memorial and space for reflection and meditation set up inside the church, and attendees could go inside in small, socially distanced groups.