Man charges Mayor Sly James during State of City address - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Man charges Kansas City Mayor Sly James during State of City address

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

A man charged Kansas City Mayor Sly James during his State of the City address and verbally assaulted him.

Kansas City police Officer Marlon Buie, who is one of James' two protection officers, grabbed the man and shoved him off the stage at the Gem Theatre.

James, a former Marine, continued with his speech and drew applause. You could hear the suspect still yelling behind the stage at times during the speech.

James said the incident surprised him and he made sure to check the man's hands to make sure he wasn't armed.

The man, Derron Black, 31, who unsuccessfully ran for the Missouri House last year, was taken into custody. Some of those who recognized Black said he's had previous outbursts at political events and was escorted out of at least one political meeting by security.

James was barely into his 15-page address when the incident occurred. James was extolling Kansas City's virtues and the All-Star Game in Kansas City last year. He had just made a joke about Raquel Welch when the man rushed James and grabbed the microphone.

"This man just got through talking about exactly what the (expletive) he ain't (expletive) did," Black said while grabbing the microphone and pounding the podium.

As Buie grabbed the man, the suspect yelled an expletive and told the man to get his hands off him. Casey Jones, James' second protection officer, mayoral aide Genaro Ruiz and others then rushed the man and continued to shove him off stage.

James stared off stage at the altercation. When he turned back to the podium, James said, "Well, that was unfortunate."

He drew applause.

"It's unfortunate that we have people who feel that somehow we have left them behind. I don't blame him for whatever feelings he wanted to express, I do have a small problem with the method," he said to laugher and applause. "But no system is perfect, no city is perfect. We must be open to the concepts and issues and complaints."

The city did not put up metal detectors at the Gem Theatre for guests to go through. Metal detectors are at City Hall where mayors Kay Barnes and Mark Funkhouser held their State of the City addresses.

James held last year's address at a hotel ballroom, and metal detectors weren't there. 

Councilman Ed Ford said based on Tuesday's incident that clearly this will "warrant a second look" if next year's address is again held away from City Hall.

"It was a scary incident. It totally came out of the blue," Ford said. "I thought the mayor handled it very well."

The man was able to bolt up the stairs at the Gem Theatre and rush onto the stage. He threw down the Missouri flag onto the stage floor.

"It appears to me his intent was not to harm anyone but to bring attention to himself and his cause," Ford said, adding it is fortunate that no one was hurt. "It's unfortunate you have to have metal detectors at City Hall, the state Capitol, courtrooms and the Sprint Center."

Michael Moore said he feared that Black was going to use the flag as a spear.

Officers hustled the man out of the Gem Theatre. Police Chief Darryl Forte helped collar the man. Forte told reporters that he used his own handcuffs to restrain the man.

Black told reporters that he was upset over Councilman Jermaine Reed and his failure to attend city meetings.

"Rescue my city and fire the (expletive) council in my name," he said when asked his name. "City Councilman Reed can't even show up to city-appointed meetings. He can't even be there to govern his own (expletive) city."

Reed told KCTV5's Sandra Olivas that he didn't know who the man was.

He later issued a statement, saying the focus should be on the city's progress. He said Black's actions were an "unnecessary distraction."

Others who recognized the man said he ran unsuccessfully for the Missouri House last year. They said he's had at least one previous outburst at a political gathering.

Former Mayor Charles Wheeler, who was in attendance, praised James' handling of the situation and said he doesn't know if he could have kept his composure.

"I feel like I wouldn't have stayed as calm as our mayor stayed. If that happened to me, I would have taken off," he said, laughing.

Former Mayor Richard Berkley said he was glad no one was hurt. He commended James for handling it "extremely well."

"I'm glad he didn't go after the mayor," he said. "He went after the flag. It was an incident that could have been very disruptive."

Berkley commended James for handling it "extremely well" and not letting the disruption shake him up.

James praised his staff's handling of the situation and said he had no plans to add extra security at next year's address. He said you can't make changes because one person goes off the deep end.

"I'm not going to question my security because there's nothing they could have done except to be standing with me side by side. We don't live that way," he said.

Forte said the situation will be reviewed and security changes made, if needed, because he said it was a serious incident.

"We need to look at it. Anytime you have someone get that close to the mayor and he shouldn't be, we will look at it," Forte said. "I can't say we did anything wrong. But we've got to look at it for sure ... We will look at it to find out what we need to do differently to prevent something like this in the future."

The disruption overshadowed James' speech, which included efforts to curb the city's violence and improve the city's streets. He proposed a $5 increase in parking fines to fund youth programs.

Three hours after the incident, James took to Twitter.

"I am deeply grateful my security detail, Marlon and Casey, that is now twice when my security detail has saved me from harm. #lovemesomeKCPD."

He referenced a shooting in 2011 at the Country Club Plaza. James was nearby when a fight resulted in gunfire ringing out. Buie shoved James to the ground and covered his body.

"Those guys are with me every minute I'm out. They have thrown me in the bushes when there was a shooting and came up and tackled someone before they laid a hand on me. So there is zero reason for me to question security."

But others weren't so impressed with James' security detail.

"I was wondering where the security was at for the mayor or how he got that close and how no one was able to stop that," Daniel Edwards said. "Beyond that, I'm glad the mayor is safe. I'm glad everyone else is safe because this could have been something completely different."

James said he is willing to visit with Black via telephone about his concerns, but he said he would not have a face-to-face meeting with him.

"I don't know what was bothering that young man. Obviously something was. And I might not agree with it all. We ought to be able to listen," he said.

Here is the entire statement from Third District Councilman Jermaine Reed about Black.

"It is imperative that our focus today remains on honoring our city's progress over the past year and the blueprint for the future. The interruption was an unnecessary distraction from the Mayor's State of the City speech, and unfair to all of the event's participants. As city leaders, we cannot allow today's obscene outburst from one individual to slow our progress toward serving every single neighborhood in Kansas City. My commitment to the citizens of the Third District has been to actively engage with them first hand, to listen to their concerns and find solutions. That commitment was only strengthened today. I know the Mayor and my fellow council colleagues feel as committed as I am to achieve these goals together: to create more and better jobs, quality housing, and safe neighborhoods in the Third District."

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