KANSAS CITY, Mo. — More than 100 people gathered Wednesday night at the Hodge Park Amphitheater in Kansas City, Missouri, to show support for law enforcement in the aftermath of funding reallocations for KCPD.
Organizers from We Back Blue, a group based in Washington, D.C., planned the rally due to concerns about the roughly $42 million being shifted to a community services and prevention fund.
"They just don’t deserve the treatment that they’re getting," We Back Blue Founder Melissa Robey said.
The group travels around the country to speak with communities where funding from police departments has been reallocated.
"I’ll give you the answers to the test," Tim Parrish, director of governmental affairs of We Back Blue, said. "When you defund or reallocate your resources from your police department, we see crime skyrocket, business owners and families become victims of crime at a higher rate and Black and Brown communicates are impacted at far greater numbers than other groups."
Those who attended the event told 41 Action News they want to know where the money will go in Kansas City's special community services and prevention fund.
"Tell us how, you know?" KCMO resident Bob Lewis said. "They want to take it away and now the police department has to ask for it? Who decides?"
KCMO resident Marguerite Jaszczuk had similar thoughts.
"Why take it to begin with if it’s going to go back?" she said.
Those at the rally also want to keep the police department run by the state after calls for local control from Mayor Quinton Lucas and other city officials.
"We don’t want local control," Jaszczuk said. "I think we’ve had too much local control."
One speaker brought up efforts to recall KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas, while District 2 Councilwoman Teresa Loar told supporters she spoke with City Manager Brian Platt and said he asked her if they can “get back to the table to talk about this.”
Councilwoman @taloar tells supporters here she recently spoke with KCMO City Manager @BrianDavidPlatt and claims he asked her “can we get back to the table to talk about this?”. Loar said only if they are involved. @41actionnews pic.twitter.com/75kZdrGh2X— Nick Starling (@NickStarlingTV) June 3, 2021
Morgan Said, a spokesperson for Lucas’ office, said in a statement that 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,” while Lucas toured a neighborhood on the city’s east side and met with community leaders.
“Mayor Lucas’ focus remains on ending our decades-long homicide crisis and building a safer Kansas City for all of our residents,” Said stated. “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.”
We Back Blue is heading to New Jersey and Virginia next.