No Restriction to Stage where Protester Rushed Mayor James
March 20, 2013

There was no restriction from the seating area to the G Theater stage when Mayor Sly James spoke Tuesday. This is is from a few minutes before the event

There was no restriction on access from the Gem Theater audience seating area stage to the stage Tuesday when protester Derron Black rushed the stage and interrupted Mayor Sly James’ ‘State of the City’ speech.

Kansas City Police Chief Daryl Forte acknowledged that in an interview with KMBC Wednesday.

“That’s a good point,” Forte said after being asked if that could have blocked the protester in any way..

“It could, I don’t know,” he added, “If you got a guy that angry, I don’t know. It may give you a little more time to react. It’s a good question.”

At many political events, especially ones involving the President and for presidential candidates, access from the audience to the stage is eliminated.

Forte says at the time Black rushed the stage, some officers also assigned to the event were “distracted”, according to the Chief.

Officers were looking for another person inside the building they thought may have also posed a problem for them. He did not elaborate.

Forte says, in some cases, at some events, the department may add more officers to the Mayoral detail. The Police Department determines security, not the Mayor’s office.

“I’m not a security guy,” said Mayor James Wednesday agreeing with the practice, “they’re the experts”.

At a Wednesday event in the 18th & Vine District, the same area as the Tuesday incident, Mayor James spoke from a riser a couple of feet off the floor. The only access to the riser was a single set of steps at the back.

The same security detail that escorted Mayor James Tuesday was back on duty Wednesday.

Meanwhile, protester Derron Black was released from police custody.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker says he faces two misdemeanor charges, assaulting a police officer and disrupting government operations; in this case the Mayor’s official speech.

Black also postponed a news conference where he was expected to announce he is running for Mayor. It is rescheduled for Thursday.

In an interview on KMBZ radio, Black called his rush to the stage a spur-of-the-moment “outburst”.

“We’re talking about systematic oppression that is continuing in our community. So I’m trying to figure out a way of addressing these things,” he said of his plan to challenge Mayor James during the radio interview.

He also used the interview to apologize for “embarrassing my city”.