Mayor Discusses Policing in Kansas City

UMKC Critical Conversation also features student leader and criminology professor

zoom image of panelists discussing

The fifth in the UMKC Critical Conversations series addressing system racism continued a multi-segment discussion of the future of policing in Kansas City.

This session, held on Zoom Oct. 5, featured Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas; Ken Novak, professor of criminology and criminal justice at UMKC; and UMKC Student Government Association President Brandon Henderson. Gary O’Bannon, executive-in-residence at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, moderated the talk, fielding questions UMKC students submitted to the mayor.

The meeting was a continuation of the dialogue that began between Lucas and UMKC students earlier this summer. Many UMKC students and alumni attended the protests on the Country Club Plaza that began in late May after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis. O’Bannon said that while Floyd’s death was a flashpoint in race relations, Kansas City has its own history of police brutality to confront. Protestors have voiced their concern over the absence of justice for the treatment of Ryan Stokes, Breonna Hill and others as evidence that the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department is systemically racist.

Listen to slices of that conversation:

Lucas: “One thing I am heartened by about this moment, particularly students, activists and others who have been part of it, is that it is sustained. It has continued to push change for us.”

“You have to stop allowing the things that are creating inequalities in our system…if you just change personnel but keep the same rules…you’re going to have all of these problems.”

Henderson: “I’m a senior, a Kansas City native and before all of that, I’m a Black man…And so like many young Black people in this city, I’ve decided it’s incumbent on me to protest and show up against the lack of action from our police department and local government, and it is incumbent upon me to help hold our elected officials accountable, which is part of why we’re having this meeting today.”

Novak: “The larger question about the defund movement, where do we place our resources to get the biggest bang for our buck? And I think that’s a very healthy conversation to have. That is something that has to happen at the local level because all policing is local.”

The UMKC Chancellor’s Office and Division of Diversity and Inclusion host Critical Conversations, which is part of Roos Advocate for Community Change, a campus-wide effort about thoughtful action on campus and in our community to ensure lasting and comprehensive reform.

Listen to the whole conversation

Published: Oct 12, 2020

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