KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Allegations of racism within the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department was the topic of discussion at a town hall Thursday night.
Community leaders, advocates, and families affected by violent crime came out to have their voices heard in the conversation.
“Racism in the KCPD: Addressing the Black and Blue Divide.” An event held by the Urban League of Greater Kansas City. It was hosted by Roland Martin who has a live program with a national platform. He focuses on topics of news and politics specifically for a Black audience.
What was clear from the panel and audience was they believe racism takes many forms. From violence against residents, solving homicides, and equity within the department. Gwen Grant, the CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City was pleased with the turnout.
“We feel that this town hall was a great opportunity to bring our community together to amplify the voices of concern around public safety and the racism in the Kansas City Police Department,” Grant said.
They highlighted wanting to see the police department placed under local control and the violence Kansas Citians see daily. A panel of parents and grandparents of men killed in officer involved shootings talked about the need for change, including Narene Stokes, Ryan Stokes’ mother.
“I want to see first accountability and then I would like to see justice because we haven’t been before a judge or jury so we had to file a lawsuit and it did go into appeals and so now I’m in an appeals court waiting,” Stokes said.
Rhonda Herring said men of color are disproportionately killed and wants to see her son, Brandon Herring’s case solved. He was killed in 2016 and found in 2017 during a search for convicted murderer Kylr Yust’s victims, Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions. She is still waiting for answers and feel the department isn’t doing enough.
“It’s the police department’s problem. You’re very intimidating. You’re not transparent, and you give that aura that frankly ‘I don’t care.’ If it’s not a simple murder then we don’t really have a lot of time. We have a lot of other murders. Well, I’m concerned about my murder,” Herring said.
KCPD released a statement about the event and at least one current officer was in attendance.
“KCPD recognizes the importance of diversity within the police department. We continue to strive to recruit and retain a diverse workforce. We understand community outreach and trust is key to our service to the citizens and we recognize that a diverse workforce is part of that equation.”— Kansas City, Missouri Police Department
If you would like to watch the forum yourself the video is currently live.