KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hundreds of people gathered between City Hall and the Jackson County courthouse for a Black Lives Matter rally.
The large crowd makes some believe real reforms may finally be possible.
A large, diverse group of mostly young people listened to speakers, including U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, call for changes in our justice system.
Local leaders, including Councilman Brandon Ellington, spoke of the importance of having complaints against police officers reviewed by an outside board of citizens.
“More often than not, they come back with complaints not verified,” Ellington said of the current Office of Community Complaints process. “So most of the complaints that go through there come back non verified. I know for a fact I took individuals down there for an officer that has 65 complaints, all of these different people. None of these were certified or validated.”
The crowd cheered the expectation that Kansas City police will be equipped with body cameras by the end of the year. But some say that video must be available to the public.
Longtime civil rights activist Ron MacMillian says he’s encouraged that finally solving the age-old issue of racial injustice may be just around the corner.
“Not right away, but gradually it works up to making a difference,” MacMillian said. “This many people! It has to make some kind of difference. Voting is coming up in November, so getting our engines rolling, because it will take activity by the people. When I was growing up, it used to be: ‘Power to the people!’ It’s coming back.”
Leaders discussed placing a ballot issue before voters for local control of the KCPD. But perhaps the biggest cheers came after a speaker called for the dismissal of all charges filed against protesters during demonstrations in May.
Leaders claim the key to making the changes is having all the voices show up when the city council meets and when the police board meets to consider policy changes in the coming weeks.
The city council is expected to consider some of the reforms next week.
The next public meeting of the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners is scheduled for June 16.