Committee recommends council pass ordinance dismissing charges for protestors

The Kansas City Special Committee for Legal Review met Tuesday to review an ordinance introduced by Third District At-Large Councilman Brandon Ellington on June 4.

Ordinance 200415 would establish a limited prosecutorial bar for certain acts within the city, erasing previous municipal charges from protests between May 29 and June 2 in the Central Business District, the Country Club Plaza area, the Westport and Mill Creek Park.

Protests have taken place across the country and locally for nearly three weeks, sparked by the death of George Floyd after a Minneapolis Police Department officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said her office had not filed charges for minor offenses against protesters in a statement Thursday.

Charges have been filed by the city prosecutor’s office, which reports to the mayor and the city council.

In the statement, Baker denounced the city filing charges against non-violent protestors for walking in the street or stepping off the curb.

Baker’s office did file four cases related to looting that occurred on the Plaza following protests last weekend, for which all individuals have now been released.

With the council chambers at capacity and over 150 people watching on a screen in the first floor lobby of City Hall waiting to enter the meeting, Committee Chair Kevin McManus said this was the highest attendance for a meeting of the Special Committee for Legal Review.

If the ordinance is passed, it would allow protestors who were arrested for non-violent actions to have their charges dropped. However, charges for theft, violence and property damage would not be dismissed.

The charges considered are in Chapter 50 or Chapter 70 of the City of Kansas City, Missouri’s Code of Ordinances.

Ellington said the City Council has received upward of 300 emails, many anonymous, urging members to vote against the ordinance, saying they look like they are organized and could be coming from the local Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).

“Last week when I introduced the ordinance, we talked about it on the floor, it’s a very simple ordinance, but the negative blowback was that I was eradicating violent crimes,” Ellington said. “I want to assure people that don’t understand the law, basic law lets us all know that you cannot do that on the city council.”

Ellington showed the committee and audience a compilation video of local protests.

For nearly three hours constituents voiced their opposition or support for the ordinance.

A group of police officers’ wives, represented by a couple speaker, said they fear for their husbands’ and families’ lives.

Brad Lemon, president of the Kansas City, Missouri FOP Lodge #99, said he believes in free speech and protest, but cautioned the committee of this action affecting how future protests are handled.

“If this was about peaceful protest, we wouldn’t be sitting here today,” Lemon said. “We’re not talking about that, we’re talking about people that chose to throw five-pound stones and crush police officers’ helmets, lacerate livers, people in the hospital, stitches. At some point peace has to be kept, that’s our job. We don’t create rules, we operate within them.”

Supporters of the ordinance said the protests were escalated by police, who responded in riot gear during the initial interactions on the Plaza.

Justice Horn, organizer of support for the ordinance, said as far as he is aware, no police officers have been charged for inappropriate actions during the protests, just protestors.

“No one should have to suffer or be punished for the progress that we’ve made as a community and a city,” Horn said.

Comments in support of the ordinance were met with raucous applause echoing off the marble in the first floor lobby.

Ellington noted that all of the spoken opposition at the committee meeting came from law enforcement or affiliated parties, and said it is not their duty to argue laws.

McManus said he wants to make sure the ordinance is as specific as possible to prevent unintended results.

The draft ordinance was changed, removing a provision to make the order retroactive, which First District Councilwoman Heather Hall argued for, saying that those charged with a crime should face a judge. 

The committee voted 3-1 to recommend the City Council pass the ordinance, with Hall dissenting, calling it a “slippery slope.”

Director of City Communications Chris Hernandez said because the city prosecutor is not a member of the judicial branch, and unlike the municipal court, does not adjudge guilt or innocence, it is within the purview of the city council to bar the prosecutor from going forward with certain charges.

“The city prosecutor continues to review the information related to all charges, including any additional information that may be submitted after the fact, all in an effort to be prepared to properly assess the sufficiency of any pending case as well as be prepared to implement any legislative directive,” Hernandez said Wednesday.

The ordinance will next be considered by the full council Thursday.

Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

Comments are closed.

  • KCMO Parks Board approves renaming several connected thoroughfares in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    24 hours ago
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor The Kansas City, Mo., Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners unanimously approved renaming several connected thoroughfares […]


    Neighborhood markers targets for errant motorists

    24 hours ago
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher The Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood certainly has had their share of bad luck when it comes to the […]


    Sustainable house one step closer to completion

    24 hours ago
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor Mattie Rhodes Center’s Northeast Alliance Together (NEAT) is anticipating the completion of its first net zero […]


    Mayor Lucas announces birth of son

    April 20th, 2021
    by

    Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas announced Monday via Twitter that he and his longtime partner, Katherine Carttar, have welcomed a […]


    Pedestrian in critical condition, hit by car on Independence Ave

    April 18th, 2021
    by

    A pedestrian is left with critical injuries after being hit by a car on Independence Avenue at Lawndale Avenue today. […]


    Kansas City Museum one step closer to foundation oversight

    April 16th, 2021
    by

    The Kansas City Museum continues the journey toward foundation management as the Kansas City, Mo., City Council approved an agreement […]


    Audit: KCPD not adequately staffing parking control downtown

    April 16th, 2021
    by

    City Auditor’s Office makes recommendation to align on-street parking enforcement with City goals. The Kansas City, Mo., City Auditor’s Office […]


    Strawberry Swing gathers metro makers in PH

    April 14th, 2021
    by

    Abby HooverManaging Editor On Sunday, April 11, makers, artists and small business owners assembled on Brooklyn Avenue between Lexington and […]


  • Public Works presents recommendations for traffic calming on St. John

    April 14th, 2021
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor Indian Mound residents, business owners and stakeholders had the opportunity to give input on anticipated traffic […]


    Northeast’s Spring Cleanup a success despite the rain

    April 14th, 2021
    by

    Nikki Lansford Editorial Assistant Rain did little to deter Northeast’s Neighborhood Spring Cleanup, which occurred on the dreary morning of […]


    Standing for Law and Order

    April 14th, 2021
    by

    Once again The Kansas City Star, the Urban League, and the Kansas City Homeless Union – whatever that is – […]


    Aldi reopens after modern makeover

    April 14th, 2021
    by

    Nikki LansfordNortheast News After being closed for over a month for renovations, one Aldi grocery store located in Northeast has […]


    KCFD Community Paramedic Program

    April 14th, 2021
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor The Kansas City, Mo. Fire Department (KCFD) is working to improve quality of life for residents […]


    WGU offers grants to innovative Missouri teachers

    April 12th, 2021
    by

    Western Governors University (WGU) Missouri has issued a call for teachers from kindergarten to grade 12 to submit their innovative […]


    Volunteers make repairs following Indian Mound house fire

    April 10th, 2021
    by

    Following an early morning fire on April 5, Northeast neighbors are stepping up to help one of their own repair […]


    Artists bring awareness to vascular disease through new Northeast mural

    April 7th, 2021
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor Medical researchers and artists are sharing an important message about vascular health with Northeast Kansas City […]


  • Northeast Newscast


  • Faces Of Northeast


  • retorts illustrated by bryan stalder


  • Want articles sent directly to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
    We respect your privacy and will not distribute your information.