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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Virginia-based group traveled to Kansas City to host a rally Wednesday night to oppose funding changes in the Kansas City Police Department.

About 200 people gathered at the Hodge Park Amphitheater in the Northland to show support for law enforcement. Men, women, children and officers were in the audience. 

“We are doing as best we can. We see a lot of calls that people don’t see,” KCPD Officer Nathan Harper said. “The way we’re doing it is the way it needs to be done, but we need everyone else’s help though.”

The group We Back Blue from Manassas, Virginia, organized the effort and also worked to recruit volunteers who will push “Recall Mayor Quinton Lucas” petitions. The group is looking for 200 volunteers to get 75 signatures each.

“The goal is just to get people motivated and interested and get volunteers for hopefully petition purposes so that we can go out and show the people of Kansas City that their grassroots efforts are strong and people do support their police,” said Melissa Robey, a We Back Blue leader. 

The rally was held in response to Lucas and the Kansas City Council’s plan to move more than $40 million of the $250 million police budget to a Community Services and Prevention Fund. The police board and city manager would come into contract on how those funds are spent, giving the city more oversight.

The city’s move quickly triggered a lawsuit. A judge has ordered a temporary stay. 

“It’s a very temporary stay. We’ve only got 30 days, and no one knows what the future holds,” Missouri Rep. Doug Richey said. “I think now is the time to keep the pressure on in making sure we support our local law enforcement and, ultimately by supporting law enforcement, working toward a safer Kansas City.” 

In response to the latest recall effort, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office sent the following statement to FOX4:

“While an out-of-state special interest group spent a beautiful night in the Northland peddling lies, dividing our community, and turning a profit on merchandise, Mayor Lucas himself spent his evening with a diverse group of folks on a neighborhood walking tour of Kansas City’s East Side to discuss with community leaders how we can best invest in our neighborhoods and mentor our young people. He finished his night talking to Boy Scouts in South Kansas City.

“Mayor Lucas’s focus remains on ending our decades-long homicide crisis and building a safer Kansas City for all of our residents. The mayor will continue working with his colleagues, the Kansas City Police Department, and any Kansas Citians heartbroken by our violent crime numbers and interested in real, sustainable change and crime-prevention efforts.

“Mayor Lucas has confronted a lot in less than than two years in office from COVID-19 to a homelessness crisis to violent crime. He is committed to fixing generational challenges in Kansas City where change is long overdue.

Rally attendees hope to show city and state leaders they oppose any funding changes in the department. 

“I thought that’s shameful,” Kansas City resident Janet Stark said. “I think we should be doing the exact opposite — funding them. Giving them more money not defunding them.”