KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A coalition of major civil rights organizations in Kansas City, including the NAACP-Missouri, National Black United Front-KC, Southern Christian Leadership Conference-KC, Urban League of Greater Kansas City, and Urban Summit issued a vote of no confidence in Kansas City’s city manager Thursday.
The coalition accused Brian Platt of racist, sexist, and discriminatory policies toward Black women and Black city workers.
The city says an investigation into the former head of the Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Office was solely based on her being a high ranking official who was not following the city’s residency requirements.
The civil rights organizations feel it was retaliation against Andrea Dorch for her support of Black businesses.
“We today, organized, builded [sic] and mobilized issue now a vote of no confidence in City Manager Brian Platt and we condemn Mayor Quinton Lucas’s complicity in the actions that have occurred within city government,” Dr. Vernon Howard Jr., President of the SCLC of Kansas City, said.
This coalition of Civil Rights organizations has three demands. First, reinstate Dorch, former head of the Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Department.
“It’s an insult to create a commission on studying reparations when we have the very administrator responsible for securing our participation discriminated and forced to resign,” Black business owner Marvin Lyman said.
The final two demands are to implement the recommendations of an external review of the Fire Department concerning discrimination and amend an agreement with Facebook parent company META on a massive construction project in the Northland to include minority participation requirements.
“Everybody concerned about diversity, equity and inclusion should be concerned the city has approved a billion dollar project without guaranteeing minority participation in it,” Howard said.
Sherae Honeycutt, press secretary for the City Manager’s Office, responded Thursday saying “City Manager Platt is committed to an equitable workplace free of discrimination for both employees and contractors.”
She pointed to a pair of ordinances introduced Thursday related to Minority and Women Owned Business goals requiring contractors using 2023 bond proceeds to make a good faith effort to meet goals of just over 14%.
The release from the City of Kansas City also points out Platt created the Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Department.
In response to complaints related to the fire department, the release said. The City worked with a third party to study the culture of Kansas City’s Fire Department. In 2022, La Donna McCullough was hired as the City’s first Chief Equity Officer. In 2023, the KCFD culture report was released and McCullough is working on changing culture within the department.
But the civil rights leaders didn’t mince words about what they think should happen.
“We call for his resignation. He needs to leave the city. If he doesn’t understand what we are, a people that have tried to make progress in this community. He is from New Jersey, I suggest that he goes back there,” Bishop James Tindall, Urban Summit President, said.
The Office of Mayor Quinton Lucas, accused of being complicit in racism, issued the following response:
Under the leadership of Mayor Lucas, a record number of Black women and Black people have been appointed to positions of leadership, pay to the City’s workforce has increased, and more investment has come to the Black community than ever before. The Mayor has great respect for the organizations speaking today. He already has contacted leaders from the organizations to meet to discuss their concerns. Kansas City can only be successful if all can benefit from our rise. The Mayor remains committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure Kansas City can be a national leader in increasing opportunities for all.