KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Several community activists disrupted Tuesday’s Board of Police Commissioners meeting, bringing it to a halt in their push for the Kansas City police chief’s resignation.
“We draw the line,” Dr. Vernon Howard of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference said passionately following a heated public comment session. “No more, no more, no more.”
After several minutes of unrest, police board President Don Wagner said, “We’re going to adjourn the meeting.”
Wagner told FOX4 the board adjourned then held a closed session. By that point, the community room had been vacated, and the board went back into open session and completed its business, Wagner said.
Gwendolyn Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater KC, said the goal was to show commissioners that the only thing they need to be talking about now is how they plan to handle demands from activists and community members.
Leaders with the NAACP of KC, AdHoc Group Against Crime, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Jewish Community Relations Bureau, among others, said they stand together, calling for the resignation of police Chief Rick Smith.
“No true Black or blue community covenant will ever exist when excessive force injures and kills Black lives. Police brutality must cease and desist by voting today if police Chief Smith is the right leader for continued command,” Bishop Frank Douglas said.
At the podium, they echoed similar concerns about racism and police brutality being accepted in Kansas City.
“In any case, we do to have any confidence in his leadership,” Grant said. “We have no confidence in his ability to build community trust and respect. It is obvious by his feckless leadership over this department that there is racism inside the department and racism in the policies, practices and procedures that are perpetrated against our communities.”
“The time is far spent and the KCPD must implement policies and procedures that not represent just us, but improve the performance of serving and protecting all citizens without racial bias and unwarranted targeting,” Douglas said.
Just after the board moved back to an open session, Wagner addressed the demands for Smith to resign, saying, “He’s one of the most widely respected chiefs in the country.”
Wagner also noted a statue of a fallen officer being defaced and the situation with a local attorney and protest leader who many argue threatened police officers and their families.
“This shouldn’t happen,” Wagner said. “How do we help others to understand that if we don’t stand up to these threats, Kansas City will not have sufficient officers to answer the 700 urgent calls we get everyday to 911.”
Activists and community members said they plan to continue to make their concerns known until their demands are addressed.