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Kansas City has popped up as a potential temporary home for the Toronto Raptors next season — as they will likely need to relocate due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and international travel restrictions in place.
Three civil rights groups in the Kansas City area, however, have cautioned the Raptors and the league against doing so.
The reason? City leaders have “failed to demonstrate that Black Lives Matter.”
Civil rights groups warn NBA against relocating to Kansas City
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 explaining their worries about the possible move to NBA commissioner Adam Silver last week, according to KMBC.
“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. “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 cited several recent incidents in the city in their letter, and said that “racial profiling by police is a routine occurrence.” They also specifically called out the police chief and mayor for not addressing these issues.
KCPD, mayor respond to letter
Both the Kansas City police department and Mayor Quinton Lucas addressed the letter in statements to KMBC on Saturday.
The police department plainly 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.”
Patrick Mahomes, others advocating for the Kansas City Raptors
The COVID-19 pandemic is raging in the United States like never before.
The country 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 with nearly 100,000 new cases.
Because of that, the border between the United States and Canada is closed — which would make it extremely difficult for the Raptors to host games in Toronto when the season starts back up again.
While there are plenty of options available — including sharing a current NBA market temporarily — NBA sources told Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill that an NBA-ready market is an easier sell.
The league has reportedly been eyeing Louisville and the KFC Yum! Center as a possible home. Kansas City, with the T-Mobile Center in the Power & Light District, is also NBA-ready.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes tweeted out his support for bringing the Raptors to the city last week, and Lucas, two state senators and a representative all wrote a letter to Silver advocating for the move.
As the league has yet to agree on an official start date or plan for next season, finding a new home for the Raptors likely won’t happen for quite some time.
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