By LESLIE COLLINS
March 21, 2013
Kansas City Mayor Sly James’ words became lost to most after a disgruntled Kansas Citian stormed the Gem Theater stage March 19.
Area residents and media outlets aren’t discussing the content of the mayor’s State of the City address. Instead, the focus has been placed on 31-year-old Derron Black, who unsuccessfully ran for District 23 Missouri state representative in 2012, and interrupted the mayor’s speech. Black has now been charged with third degree assault on a law enforcement officer, a Class A misdemeanor, and obstructing government operations, a Class B misdemeanor.
During James’ State of the City address, Black pushed over the Kansas City flag, then proceeded to the podium where he stood shoulder to shoulder with the mayor and shouted profanities into the microphone, claiming the mayor hadn’t done anything for Kansas City. A struggle then ensued between Black and James’ body guards. Black’s profanity-laced words echoed in the room as James continued his speech. When police escorted Black away in handcuffs, Black said City Councilman Jermaine Reed “can’t even show up to city appointed meetings.”
Following Black’s outburst, James said, “I don’t have a problem with the feelings he wanted to express. I do have a problem with the method.”
In an interview with CNN, James said he didn’t hold any animosity toward Black.
“I understand the level of frustration he must feel,” James said. “The only difference that he and I may actually even have is his method of delivery. I have my frustrations about things that are going on as well, but I also recognize good things that are going on.”
James added that when individuals find themselves in “bad circumstances,” they tend to focus on the negative and forget how blessed they are living in Kansas City and in this country. James said he wishes nothing but the best for Black.
Regardless of all the positives, James said he’s also concerned about the area of the city where unemployment and poverty are prevalent, education resources are lacking and where crime is high. There’s not a quick fix to those issues, he said.
“We have to work on those things diligently, consistently and everyday. That’s what we’re trying to do,” James said.
When Northeast News asked Reed why Black called him out, Reed said, “I’m not sure. I think every person has their own view of what we as elected officials should do and what we should be attending. I have nearly perfect attendance.”
Northeast News contacted the city clerk’s office and obtained Reed’s attendance record for city council and city committee meetings. From May 2, 2011, to March 21, 2013, Reed had a 94.5 percent attendance rate. Reed was absent 17 times, but of those, 14 were excused absences.
Reed said he first met Black at Kansas City’s City Hall and has talked to him numerous times at various meetings. Reed doesn’t have a vendetta against Black, and he doesn’t believe Black has a vendetta against him, Reed said.
“If anything, I think he has a large concern about where he sees the state of the city,” Reed said. “He may not understand the process and is frustrated with that, and that’s unfortunate. But, I think we have to all together work together and talk about how to best handle our issues and not necessarily do them from a standpoint where it’s forceful.”