Community leaders call for DOJ to investigate civil rights violations by KCPD, K…

Dozens of protestors gathered at 39th Street and Rainbow Boulevard in Kansas City, Kansas, Saturday morning with signs and megaphones.

“We can’t wait, investigate,” the crowd chanted in unison, marching across the state line to Roanoke Park in Kansas City.

Most held signs, which read:

Department of Justice, investigate NOW!

Who’s policing the police?

How many more?

The Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity (MORE2), Urban League of Greater Kansas City, We The Voice and several other community organizations banded together to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate alleged civil rights violations of both the Kansas City Police Department and Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department.

Group members believe both departments are guilty of using excessive force against Black citizens, among other issues.

Demonstrators marched from through Kansas City Saturday, holding signs asking for a DOJ investigation. Jenna Thompson/[email protected]

Ophelia Williams joined the crowd, taking the stage after the march to speak about the aftermath of her alleged rape by ex-KCK detective Roger Golubski, who was indicted two times: once in September 2022 for sexually assaulting and kidnapping a woman and a teenager from 1998 to 2002, and again in November for conspiring to sex traffic girls between 1996 and 1998.

“A lot of policemen, judges, prosecutors, all of them, knew what was going on out there,” Williams said.

Golubski remains on pretrial release.

But the issues surrounding the retired KCK detective weren’t the only concern raised by community leaders Saturday.

Keith Dixon, president of MORE2, said citizens on both sides of the state line were tired of excessive use of force instances by both departments. MORE2 published a letter this summer addressing “the disparate treatment of Black Kansas Citians, from disproportionate stops to use of force.”

But now, he thinks the issue has reached a tipping point, saying the community is tired of waiting for justice.

“We’re at a point where we feel like we can’t wait no more, we need to bring attention to this matter — urgent attention,” he said.

The DOJ began investigating the KCPD after The Star published a series of stories last year examining allegations of racism and harassment within the police force. The agency said it would look into the hiring and promotional practices of the KCPD after the newspaper revealed officers were disproportionately disciplined by KCPD, and at least 18 officers had left because of racist treatment over a 15-year period.

Many others who spoke at the rally attested to having loved ones who died of excessive force.

Aquil Bey, the stepfather of Cameron Lamb, took the stage to share his story. In 2019, Lamb was shot by shot and killed by KCPD detective Eric DeValkenaere, who would later be convicted of manslaughter.

In August, community leaders gathered together to urge Gov. Mike Parson not to pardon DeValkenaere.

“The system breeds corruption,” Bey said. “This is not the first time the police killed somebody.”

Several groups came together to allege both the KCKPD and KCPD are violating Black citizens’ civil rights. Jenna Thompson/jthompson@kcstar.com

Several groups came together to allege both the KCKPD and KCPD are violating Black citizens’ civil rights. Jenna Thompson/[email protected]

In August 2022, Kansas City native Mack Nelson was shown on video being thrown to the ground by a police officer and falling briefly unconscious. Nelson sued the KCPD and received a $500,000 settlement.

“In both departments, the current state of affairs has eroded the trust of the community due to a lack of transparency, accountability and fairness. Our community members … need change,” said Amaia Cook with the Urban League of Greater Kansas City.

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