Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the international travel restrictions that are still in place because of it, the NBA is looking to temporarily relocate the Toronto Raptors south of the border to America. One of the cities that has surfaced as a potential temporary home is Kansas City. However, several civil rights organizations are taking issue with the proposal.
Three civil rights groups, including 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 to NBA commissioner Adam Silver last week explaining their concerns that city leaders have “failed to demonstrate that Black Lives Matter.”
“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, according to KMBC. “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 claim that “racial profiling by police is a routine occurrence” and that the city’s police chief and mayor are not addressing the issue.
The KCPD and Mayor Quinton Lucas have both since responded to the civil rights group’s letters. In a statement to KMBC on Saturday, they 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.
“I commend our civil rights organizations for reminding our city and those beyond that preservation of Black lives should be a most pressing concern for our community and our partners,” Lucas said in a statement. “Unfortunately, like Toronto, Chicago, Philadelphia and most NBA cities, we have much work to do in ensuring all our Black neighbors feel safe in all interactions with law enforcement. Regardless of our future with the NBA, we remain committed to that essential work.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has reached its worst point in the U.S. since breaking out in February.
America is averaging more than 80,000 new cases a day over the past week, according to The New York Times, and set an all-time record on Friday (October 30) with nearly 100,000 new cases.
Accordingly, the border between the United States and Canada is closed, making it extremely difficult for the Raptors to host games in Toronto when the season starts back up again.