Roeland Park tables racial equity resolution to gather more community input, appoints police policy review committee members

Roeland Park plans to continue its conversation about the racial equity resolution with residents — particularly those of color — until at least the August city council meeting. Above, protesters gather for a Black Lives Matter protest in Shawnee. File photo.

The Roeland Park City Council on Monday evening tabled the second draft of a racial equity resolution.

After the city council’s initial racial equity resolution discussion at the beginning of July, Mayor Mike Kelly said he knew he was not the only one who had “received an outpouring of commentary from our residents, from nonprofits and from others with a vested interest.” Prior to asking for the city council to relay feedback they’ve received, Kelly suggested the city council table the resolution decision in an effort to continue the conversation.

“I’d like to have this tabled as we continue to hear from residents [of color],” Kelly said. “I charge each of you councilmembers to reach out to your residents and to ask them about the language here.”

The second draft of the resolution includes the same three action items as the first draft, including stating Black Lives Matter without hesitation and establishing a racial equity and diversity ad hoc committee.

The governing body heard a public comment from a Wyandotte County resident and Roeland Park visitor Faith Rivera, who said as a person of color, she’s proud of the city for stepping up. Rivera said the resolution is not only important for the people of color within city limits, it’s important for those in neighboring communities who travel to Roeland Park frequently.

Councilmember Michael Rebne said he wanted to recognize Rivera’s comments about how the resolution sends a “strong signal to communities of color around Roeland Park.” He said he has received feedback about adding some concrete, actionable items to the resolution such as the previously proposed safe and welcoming ordinance to add a layer of protection for immigrants.

Councilmember Tom Madigan said Rivera’s comments “woke [him] up.” As a 35-year plus resident of Roeland Park, Madigan said he’s always been proud to live in the open, welcoming city — but this isn’t something everyone might know, he said.

“After she spoke tonight, it dawned on me like a ton of bricks: Just because we know it, doesn’t mean everybody else knows it,” Madigan said. “This ordinance would help everybody know we are an inclusive city.”

Additionally, Madigan said the city should contact as many residents of color as possible and gather their input so as to not “come off as a group of white people trying to just smooth over the problems.”

The city council unanimously approved tabling the resolution decision. Councilmember Jennifer Hill was absent.

The city council also unanimously approved appointments to the city’s recently adopted ad hoc committee. The committee, one of the actionable items from the tabled racial equity resolution, is tasked with a police policy review. Below are the governing body members and residents on the committee:

  • Councilmember Tom Madigan
  • Councilmember Jim Kelly
  • Councilmember Jennifer Hill
  • Resident Jason Joseph
  • Resident Grant Mayfield
  • Resident Miel Castagna-Herrera
  • Resident Lisa Brunner
  • Resident Sarah Dee
  • Resident Haile Sims