KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Three Kansas City Council members boycotted a committee meeting Wednesday because Mayor Quinton Lucas has not removed another council member as leader of the committee for what they called racist and unethical behavior.
Council members Kevin O’Neill, Melissa Robinson and Eric Bunch boycotted the meeting over a dispute with Councilwoman Teresa Loar, who is white, after comments she made to Robinson, who is Black, in July. The boycott meant the committee did not have a quorum and could not meet.
A coalition of civil rights groups and the three council members have previously asked Lucas to remove Loar as chairwoman of the Transportation, Infrastructure and Operations Committee.
They said Lucas had made several verbal commitments to remove Loar but had not done so.
The mayor’s spokeswoman, Morgan Said, said he had committed only to evaluating a “change in committee structure” and that the evaluation was still underway.
In July, Robinson opposed a resolution proposed by Loar regarding the city’s animal control operations.
After Robinson spoke, Loar said “That was a very nice speech someone wrote you, Miss Robinson.”
Robinson replied that she had a Master of Business Administration degree and didn’t need anyone to write for her. When she told Loar not to question her intellect, Loar responded with a mocking physical gesture that included a neck roll and shimmy that Robinson and others considered racist, The Kansas City Star reported.
Loar said Wednesday that she had apologized three times to Robinson and taken implicit bias training after Lucas asked her to do so.
Loar said the council members’ actions were more about a dispute over selecting bidders for work on the new single terminal at Kansas City International Airport than about racism.
In a letter sent to Lucas in August, the three council members objected to Loar’s behavior during negotiations over the bidding process.