Mayor Sly James: Event should focus on Michael Brown, not police brutality

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Hundreds of people are expected to meet at the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain on the Plaza Thursday evening for a rally to end police brutality and observe a moment of silence for its victims. 

Mayor Sly James said the event is not focused in the right direction.

"We should be focused on that young man and his family,” James said. “We should also deal with the acts that led to his death, but to start talking about police brutality in a general raw way is simply to incite more problems; it's not a problem solver.”

Earlier Thursday, Mayor James released a video asking people to “keep it cool,” and “doing things in the right manner.” 

Organizers said the event is one of 25 in cities across the country. Their aim is to stand in solidarity with others against police brutality.

Participants were encouraged to make posters with the names of victim who have been killed by police in the last 15 to 20 years.

Rally organizers asked people who come out tonight not to engage in violence and not to destroy property.

Mayor James said the violence in Ferguson is not getting anything done, nor will that type of violence happen here at home mainly because of the police department's leadership.

“Chief Forte has changed the way this department is functioning from an arrogant organization in the past to an organization that's much more in tuned to the people who live in the city," James said.

Chief Forte isn't the only one in touch with the community.  His officers are as well. Six officers walk to area neighborhoods looking to mend relationships and prevent crime. Then there's the man in blue pulling some dance moves in east Kansas City. And, of course, there is the officer who donated an air conditioner to a 95-year woman when hers broke down.

Their work in the community is highlighted not just thru mainstream media but also on social media such as the department's tweetalongs.

On the city level, new initiatives like the Youth Commission began in June.

Gracie Fleming is president and chair of the board.

“It's making it a more youth friendly city and making us the youth feel more unified in the city and less divided,” Fleming said. 

Police expect it to be a peaceful rally, but Chief Forte said officials are prepared if things get out of hand. 

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