Kansas City has popped up as a potential temporary home for the Toronto Raptors next season — as they will likely need to relocate due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and international travel restrictions in place.
Three civil rights groups in the Kansas City area, however, have cautioned the Raptors and the league against doing so.
The reason? City leaders have “failed to demonstrate that Black Lives Matter.”
Civil rights groups warn NBA against relocating to Kansas City
The Urban League of Greater Kansas City, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City and the Kansas City, Missouri, chapter of the NAACP wrote a letter explaining their worries about the possible move to NBA commissioner Adam Silver last week, according to KMBC.
“While having the NBA choose Kansas City as a home for the Toronto Raptors would be a huge honor, and excite NBA fans in Kansas City, as you understand, there are some issues which supersede fun and economic interests,” they wrote, in part. “The protection of Black lives remains our most pressing concern … Although Kansas City is a great sports city, it is also a city where law enforcement has demonstrated extreme hostility and excessive force towards Black people.”
The groups cited several recent incidents in the city in their letter, and said that “racial profiling by police is a routine occurrence.” They also specifically called out the police chief and mayor for not addressing these issues.
KCPD, mayor respond to letter
Both the Kansas City police department and Mayor Quinton Lucas addressed the letter in statements to KMBC on Saturday.
The police department plainly said they are committed to serving both residents and visitors of the Kansas City area, and will continue to “ensure the safety of any sports teams” coming to the city.