3 Black Women Sue Missouri To End State Governance Of Kansas City Police

Three women, including the mother of a 24-year-old who was killed by a Kansas City officer, are suing Missouri Governor Mike Parson and other state officials.

A groundbreaking federal lawsuit has been filed by three Black women against the state of Missouri who are challenging the state’s control over the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD).

The plaintiffs say the arrangement perpetuates systemic racism and denies equal rights to Black citizens. The lawsuit backs its racism and inequality claims by citing the original law, formed back in 1861, which was “to keep Black people captive, and to deny Black people basic human rights and dignities,” according to KCUR.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, further claims that the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners’ governance structure is “an effort to keep slavery legal and Black people in chains.” KCUR reports that the lawsuit hits the core of a controversial arrangement that benefited the Confederacy to control the city and St. Louis’ weapons during the Civil War era.

Plaintiff Narene Crosby, whose son Ryan Stokes was killed by KCPD in 2013, said: “My family has gotten no apology, no accountability, and no justice. They took my only son and then called it a ‘tragic mistake.'”

The lawsuit also references the aforementioned 1861 law enabling state control, saying, “The legislature passed the police bill with the direct knowledge and awareness that the law would be used to further discriminate against Black people by keeping them enslaved and considered property.”

Arguing that KCPD operates with impunity, the plaintiffs said in the lawsuit: “KCPD are effectively unaccountable to those whom they police.” In contrast, they noted that Jackson County residents can vote for their sheriff, a democratic process denied by KCPD leadership.

Per KCUR, Kansas City is the sole U.S. city that lacks local jurisdiction over its police force—a relic of Confederate efforts to control the metropolis and its weapons caches. The governor appoints four seats on the police board, while the mayor holds the fifth and final position.

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