Relatives of those killed by metro police officers push for reforms

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Relatives of nine people killed either by Kansas City or Overland Park, Kan., police joined together Friday to push for law enforcement reforms.

The group of mothers, aunts and cousins believe police are too quick to resort to deadly force. One by one, each woman spoke about their loved ones’ deaths, claiming that police misrepresented what happened to make it look like officers were in life-threatening situations, when relatives believe that wasn’t the case.

The mother of Ryan Stokes, an unarmed man killed by Kansas City police in 2013, reached out to find eight other mothers, who all believe the metro area needs to know their stories as well as they know George Floyd.

“George Floyd opened the gate because we all saw it,” said Narene Stokes, whose son was killed by police. “We saw it. We felt it here. When the mothers talked here we were like, ‘All those are being busted out nationally why can’t our children, our sons, our daughters, be told here.’ Because Kansas City, it seems, likes to sweep it under the rug. Like it doesn’t happen here, but it does.”

The Metropolitan Organization for Racial and Economic Equity organized this rally. Relatives of Dantae Franklin, John Albers, Terrence Bridges, Cameron Lamb and Donnie Sanders all want to change police policies regarding the use of deadly force, and want truly independent investigation of police shootings, instead of one friendly law enforcement agency reviewing the actions of another.

The women believe the time to change is now, while there is public support for reforms. They say they cannot allow the police protest movement to simply fade away with no meaningful change in Kansas City.

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