Kansas City mayor slams GOP depiction of 'defund police'

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City's mayor slammed the Missouri Republican Party for telling what he described as a “bald-face lie” by connecting the push for local control of the city's police department with national calls to defund police.

Missouri Republican Party Executive Director Jean Evans in a statement this week said Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nicole Galloway supports defunding police because she supports local control of the Kansas City police.

Galloway, the state auditor, is running to unseat Republican Gov. Mike Parson.

Evans described the push for local police control as “an initiative in Kansas City that would transfer power to Democrats who support defunding police departments.”

The city's Democratic mayor, Quinton Lucas, called that a “bald-face lie” by “party hacks who aren’t invested in long-term conversations about how to make our communities stronger," the Kansas City Star reported.

“Nobody in Kansas City government, and certainly not this mayor, has ever suggested local control is some move to defund or dismantle the Kansas City Police Department,” Lucas said.

Some of those who have been protesting the death of George Floyd and racial inequality throughout the country have been calling for the defunding of police departments. Floyd, who was Black and handcuffed, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer used his knee to pin down Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes.

A spokesman for Galloway said she supports local control of the Kansas City Police Department but opposes defunding the police.

Although Kansas City taxpayers fund their city's police department, a board appointed by the governor is responsible for its oversight.

Evans said he thinks the department shouldn't be run by the City Council because members have “repeatedly taken anti-police actions” and “have not opposed or denounced the ‘defund the police’ movement.”

“We oppose giving more control to anyone who wants to defund the police,” Evans said.

She cited a recent council vote to bar prosecution of nonviolent demonstrators who took to the streets over the last month to protest police brutality, and that one of the council’s 13 members refused to sign a letter thanking local police officers for their service.

Lucas, who has repeatedly said he opposes defunding police departments, said the GOP is distorting Galloway’s record and the situation in Kansas City.

“My Republican friends are grasping at straws rather than trying to have a real debate on issues, and that’s too bad,” he said.