Civil Rights

ACLU calls out Overland Park police for ‘militarized response’ to Black Lives Matter protest

BY: - August 19, 2020

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas this week condemned the Overland Park Police Department for an “overly reactive and militarized response” to a Black Lives Matter protest. In a letter addressed to Overland Park Police Chief Frank Donchez, the civil rights group highlighted concerns with officers’ handling of a peaceful protest on July 24. […]

State Sen. Caryn Tyson, a Parker Republican and member of a COVID-19 economic recovery committee, says the one-page handout from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment improperly implies that businesses and people must cooperate with contact tracing by state or county health agencies. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

GOP senators rip state health agency on COVID-19 contact tracing, question death toll

BY: - August 13, 2020

State Sens. Caryn Tyson and Gene Suellentrop take issue with KDHE's approach to contact tracing and death totals in COVID-19 pandemic.

As feds turn attention to protests, Native Americans cope with unchecked violence

BY: - August 8, 2020

Native American activists say violence against indigenous people is being overlooked by federal authorities who are more interested in a politically charged crackdown on civil rights protests. The U.S. Justice Department in July announced the launch of Operation Legend, an anti-violence campaign, in Kansas City, Missouri, then expanded the federal policing efforts to other major […]

The Kansas Supreme Court issued a stay of a ruling by a Johnson County judge who declared the state's new emergency management law unconstitutional. The attorney general is appealing the lower court decision. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas attorney general asks feds to ease driver’s license reinstatment

BY: - August 5, 2020

Attorney General Derek Schmidt endorses federal reform to reduce impediments to renewal of a driver's license not tied to motorist safety issues.

Kansas election offices have been flooded with advance voting ballots as COVID-19 and competitive races prompted people to express themselves in a safely before Election Day on Tuesday. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas voters pivot to advance by-mail voting amid COVID-19

BY: and - August 4, 2020

TOPEKA — Six times the number of advance by-mail ballots have been returned to local election offices in Kansas compared to the 2016 and 2018 primary elections with the surge in popularity tied to competitive races and the pandemic. Secretary of State Scott Schwab, who serves as the state’s top elections officer, said 159,000 voters […]

Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab says he welcomed the decision by a Shawnee County District Court judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Democrats in an attempt to speed implementation of a voting reform law allowing people to cast ballots from any polling station in the county. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Judge dismisses Democrats’ voting lawsuit against SOS Scott Schwab

BY: - July 28, 2020

Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab says Democrats and the ACLU should stop filing frivolous elections lawsuits that waste taxpayer dollars.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus say farewell at the conclusion of Monday’s memorial ceremony for the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis in the Capitol Rotunda. Lewis, a civil rights icon and fierce advocate of voting rights for African Americans, died July 17. (J. Scott Applewhite/Pool/Getty Images)

Get in ‘good trouble’: John Lewis’ words ring out in Capitol one more time

BY: - July 27, 2020

WASHINGTON — The immortal words of the late civil rights leader John Lewis rang out from the U.S. Capitol on Monday during a private ceremony in celebration of his life. “You must find a way to get in the way,” he said in a recording of a 2014 commencement speech he gave at Emory University. “You […]

Three Kansas State University students were detained by police and banned from the Statehouse in March 2019 after lowering banners in support of Medicaid expansion that targeted four GOP lawmakers. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas filed a lawsuit on their behalf. (Submitted by Sarah Oglesby-Dunegan)

Their banners got them banned from the Statehouse. Then they changed the rules.

BY: - July 26, 2020

When Jonathan Cole unfurled a 24-foot banner in the rotunda of the Kansas Statehouse calling for the expansion of Medicaid, he didn’t expect to reshape Capitol policy on protests. Cole, who now works in government technologies, sees how pertinent the demonstration was to current, ongoing protests over police reform. “I’m glad we were able to […]

Members of the Commission on Racial Equity and Justice express an interest Thursday in increasing diversity of listening session communities. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas Commission on Racial Equity and Justice turns focus to community involvement

BY: - July 23, 2020

Wichita police Chief Gordon Ramsay says throughout his career in law enforcement he has noticed, and often been told of, the need to address the system of fines leading to the removal of driver’s licenses and sometimes incarceration. “Once you get into that cycle of debt, you lose your license and then you can’t get […]

Rep. Troy Waymaster, left, a Republican from Bunker Hill, says the COVID-19 pandemic will erode casino and lottery revenue relied on by the state government to invest in economic development programs. (Nick Krug for Kansas Reflector)

State Finance Council complicit in cloaking financial terms of lawsuit settlements

BY: - July 22, 2020

State Finance Council, comprised of the Kansas governor and eight legislators, test transparency limits by avoiding public discussion of lawsuit settlements.

The University of Kansas School of Law on Tuesday hosted a panel discussion on racial injustice with, clockwise from top left, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett; Lauren Bonds, legal director, ACLU of Kansas; Melody Brannon, federal public defender in Kansas; Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas; Ursula Minor, president of the Lawrence branch of the NAACP, and Catina Taylor, founder of DREAMS KC. (Composite from submitted photos)

Kansas activist, attorneys say police reform needs transparency

BY: - July 21, 2020

When Ursula Minor, president of the Lawrence branch of the NAACP, sat down with a former member of the Lawrence Police Department, she was surprised to hear his cavalier attitude toward issues of racial justice. “They said they didn’t see any problems. They told me minorities hadn’t told them about any problems,” Minor said at […]

U.S. Rep. John Lewis was the youngest and last surviving member of the Big Six civil rights activists who led the fight to end legalized segregation and overturn Jim Crow laws. He was arrested dozens of times and beaten as a Freedom Rider. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Civil Rights hero John Lewis changed America making ‘good trouble’

BY: - July 18, 2020

Civil Rights icon and longtime Georgia Congressman John Lewis, who advocated for change through nonviolence, died late Friday night at the age of 80. The Atlanta Democrat was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer in late December. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed his death, saying the country had lost “one of the greatest heroes of […]