KC Tenants Calls for Local Judge to End Evictions

Bekah Swank

1/21/2021- 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