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Civil Rights activist sues KCMO, city council, BOPC, others for 'taxation without representation'

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Posted at 12:13 PM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 13:24:30-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Urban League of Greater Kansas City President Gwendolyn Grant is suing the City of Kansas City, Missouri, the mayor, the city council, the city manager, the director of finance and the Board of Police Commissioners.

Though Grant is known by the community through her role as a Civil Rights activist, she is filing the suit as a taxpayer.

She originally filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit filed by the Board of Police Commissioners against the City of Kansas City, Missouri. That was filed at the end of May.

The board's lawsuit was filed following the decision by the city council to reallocate $42 million in KCPD funding into a community services fund that can be accessed by the department.

The BOPC lawsuit alleges that “efforts to hinder and obstruct the Board’s management and control of the police department’s budget, [are] in violation of state law," and seeks reversal of the ordinance.

Grant said she filed to join that lawsuit on behalf of taxpayers, arguing the Board of Police Commissioners is carrying out "taxation without representation" and violating Missouri's Hancock Amendment.

The Hancock Amendment violation allegation was because the BOPC is appointed by the governor and does not answer to taxpayers, yet has the power to allocate taxpayer money.

Grant said the board's complaint and the current policing structure violate the Hancock Amendment and that the board diminishes the voting rights of minorities and violates the Equal Protection Clause.

According to the new lawsuit filing, her motion to intervene was denied by the court and she was told to file a separate lawsuit.

The new lawsuit makes the Hancock Amendment violation allegation again, but the lawsuit is now more far-reaching.

Grant is seeking a judicial declaration that the board is violating the amendment and that the board's "statutory scheme" violates the Equal Protection Clause. She also seeks to recover costs and attorney's fees.

KSHB 41 News has reached out to the defendants in the lawsuit and will update this story with comment if they become available.