The following is the full transcript of an interview with Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas that aired on “Face the Nation” on April 23, 2023.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to the Mayor of Kansas City, which is where the shooting of Ralph Yarl happened. Quinton Lucas joins us now from our affiliate KCTV. Good morning to you, Mr. Mayor. This case is–
KANSAS CITY MAYOR QUINTON LUCAS: Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: –Is so tragic, and it is really captured the attention of the country. The shooter was 84 years old and he shot unarmed 16 year old for ringing his doorbell. He says he thought he was about to be robbed. I know you already have a high rate of gun violence in Kansas City, but what is this particular tragedy meant?
MAYOR LUCAS: Well, to me it says several things. And one of those was mentioned just a moment ago by Vice President Pence in the interview. I think that actually it is this culture of fear and paranoia that’s drummed up by some, including politicians like the former vice president, who mentioned it almost in a way as if it’s an excuse for this type of action. This was in the safest neighborhood of Kansas City or one of our safest neighborhoods, and this was a man who, in his statement to the police said, I was scared of this, in essence, large Black person outside of his door. He thought the child was six feet tall. He was only five eight. He thought he was a threat. He was on the other side of two locked doors. This is the sort of thing that happens when you have this culture of paranoia and fear that’s being drummed up by politicians and some in the media. And of course, this fetishization, I’ve said before, of guns, more stand your ground laws, more laws that say you should use your gun and have it absolutely everywhere.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So your governor, who is a Republican, condemned the shooting very clearly, but he also said that President Biden was politicizing it by calling the family of that boy, Ralph Yarl. He didn’t call the families of the victims in New York and in Texas. What do you make of that? And does it complicate things when the president gets involved just given how divided our country is right now?
MAYOR LUCAS: It absolutely does not complicate anything when the president gets involved. First of all, this was a news story, an incident, a situation that had the attention of the country long before President Biden called and actually did the just humane thing and gave best wishes to a boy who had just been shot twice. This is a 16 year old in the Midwest who’d been shot twice. He gets a call from the president of the United States, which I think is a nice thing. But really, if you think about all the conversation, there was not a conversation I had certainly in this city, but with any mayors around the country who weren’t noticing this story, the racial dynamic, the fact that these laws that are extreme are frankly arming our citizens and having them more scared, I think, than they’ve ever been before. This was an 84 year old man who went to sleep in one of the safest neighborhoods of Kansas City, but still had a loaded gun. And when he heard a disturbance at his door, the first thing he thought to do wasn’t just to brandish, it wasn’t even to say a word or scream at somebody who would be outside. It was to shoot and to shoot twice. The facts of this case were astonishing in and of themselves and had the president never said a word there would still be lots of attention. I strongly disagree with the governor and particularly when his party often has politicized any number of incidents relating to border crossings and beyond in places like Missouri, far away from our southern border to use any number of political examples. I think that this is a serious situation, and the real politicization are the people who, after each one of these incidents–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
MAYOR LUCAS: say, oh, let’s blame it on mental health, let’s blame it on society. It’s tragic right now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You just talked about your Republican governor, and I just want to point out that in Kansas City, it’s a little bit unusual because you as mayor don’t oversee the police department, there’s a board appointed by the state that oversees them. So, you’re a Democrat in a red state where you can’t control the police department in your own city. So, how do you work with the governor to crack down on the gun violence if it is the Republicans in control of it?
MAYOR LUCAS: Well, we beg, we pray, and we plead with them. These- these are Missourians who are shot, right? This is not some sort of thing where the city is just an evil place far, far away. We are within this state. But you’re seeing not just in Missouri, we’ve had this setup for a while in Kansas City, right now, there’s an effort to take over state control of policing in St. Louis. You saw a lawsuit filed by the NAACP on Friday night in Jackson, Mississippi, relating to that issue where there’s this state takeover. The cities are now punching bags. They have been for a while, but you’re seeing this new extreme of everything that happens here. Even our crime isn’t something that we need to fix for the state. Instead, it’s an indictment, let’s say, on the city people themselves. I think it has lots to do with racial differences that are present in the city, our different views on gun crimes, and frankly, it’s something that can scare people a little bit more–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
MAYOR LUCAS: than perhaps talking about international affairs or deficits. Instead, it’s something that seems to be down the street and it is harming and tearing apart our country.
MARGARET BRENNAN: A lawyer for Ralph Yarl’s family spoke to my colleague Gayle King and said they were pleased with the felony charges that the police did, you know, proceed along with, but they want to know why attempted murder wasn’t part of it. And they have questions about if there were civil rights violated. Do you have answers from the police or anyone on those points?
MAYOR LUCAS: I know our police department has worked hard to review this situation, and while there are critiques, certainly we welcome those and further study. I think the challenge with the hate crimes charge is just the proof of intent that relates to it. What we do have is that there was a man who said that he was afraid of a Black male outside of his door. He shot twice. The felony assault charge carries life in prison, which for an 84 year old is a substantial potential sentence, there’s an additional armed criminal action charge. But I believe that our federal investigators and so many others will look into this to see if there are further charges. I think what a lot of people, though, wanted to say over the last week is–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
MAYOR LUCAS: that this was taken seriously. It was astonishing to some that someone who could shoot someone twice was then back in their bed later that night. I know that we have worked hard to try to address that, but we’ll answer more questions as time goes along with this tragic situation.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Just to button up what you were saying in terms of culture of fear, can’t both things be true that there is too much anxiety and manipulation of fear at the same time, there is a legitimate concern about rising crime?
MAYOR LUCAS: You know, both can be true, but I don’t think that’s the actual situation now. I mean, think about the fact that and you hear certain political figures who talk about cities that are fundamentally safer than actual cities in their own state. Often this is kind of the Governor DeSantis bashing of New York City, which is much safer than a lot of the largest cities in the state of Florida.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
MAYOR LUCAS: I think this is in many ways fully drummed up, and it’s part of getting people more guns, getting them more afraid, and I don’t think it in any way relates to the data on the ground each day.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Mr. Mayor, thank you for your time. We’ll be right back.