Government
1:57 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

KC State Of The City Speech Overshadowed By On-Stage Disruption

As Mayor Sly James delivered a predictable State of the City address at the Gem Theater Tuesday morning, Derron Black, 31, stormed the podium from backstage, pushed the mayor out of the way, and screamed obscenities into the microphone.

It was hard to tell what the man was saying. He later told reporters he was angry at Councilman Jermaine Reed.

Within seconds, the mayor’s security detail and police rustled the man to the ground. Police Chief Darryl Forte was on the scene from the beginning and reportedly used his own handcuffs to restrain Black.

Outside, a half dozen police cars raced to the scene, sirens blaring. Officers poured out of the cars and sprinted into the basement of the building .

Black was led away in cuffs and leg shackles, continuing to yell obscenities when asked questions by reporters.

Immediately after the disruption, the mayor calmly said, “That was unfortunate.”  He said he sympathized with the man's concern, but had an issue with the way he chose to speak out. The crowd of almost 300 at the Gem Theater applauded the mayor for several minutes.

Although Derron Black's remarks didn't specifically address crime, violence , or jobs some outside praised him for drawing attention to the plight of the black community.

The Mayor said he could understand their frustration.  On the other hand, he said, the city can only do so much. He asked parents, schools, churches and others to  share in the responsibility of protecting children. 

“Where are these people,” he asked. “If the city had billions of dollars, (we could do more,) but (we’re) robbing Peter to pay Paul as it is.”  The mayor confessed the city was not adequately meeting its responsibilities in education or law enforcement.

At the end of his remarks, the Mayor said the city is strong, "and we're making it even stronger." James announced he'd be adding $5 to municipal parking fines to support youth programming in the city. He talked of new housing construction under way on the Eastside, and a $25 million infrastructure investment north of the river. "Kansas City," he said, "our moment has arrived."

Officials and law enforcement are discussing ways to increase security around the Mayor, and the advisability of holding the speech out of City Hall- which has metal detectors.