Is Kansas City Mayor Q Violating First Amendment Via Social Media?!?

Over the course of the pandemic Kansas City's Mayor has been dogged by nasty online criticism. Much of it has been hateful, threatening and racist. However, many of the complaints have merely been pointed and legitimate as they challenged his controversial policy decisions. 

Recently, locals have noticed that Mayor Q's social media accounts have been quick to block, hide and dismiss his critics as campaign season moves closer. 

As an elected official, the standard for public communication is slightly different than an average blogger, influencer or pleb. The reality is that a great many legal questions regarding social media interaction for people who hold public office has yet to be determined.

Accordingly . . .

We share a COMPREHENSIVE & SPLENDIDLY WRITTEN treatise from a constituent who feels that he has been unfairly removed from the Kansas City discourse by Mayor Q.

Check-it . . .

First Amendment Rights Violations by Mayor Quinton Lucas

I am writing today because I am concerned that actions taken by Mayor Quinton Lucas in Kansas City, MO are intentionally violating the civil rights of the citizens of Kansas City, MO.  As you may or may not be aware, the Mayor and the City of Kansas City, MO are the subject of an ethics complaint, and now investigation, by the Missouri Ethics Commission.  I am happy to provide the full complaint and supporting documents I submitted to the MO Ethics Commission upon request to anyone.  I filed this complaint due to the response I received from the City when I filed a Sunshine Law request relating to Mayor Quinton Lucas blocking constituents on what appears to be his official Facebook page with over 50,000 followers, many posts, live videos from City Hall, etc.  The official response I received was “You requested information related to Quinton Lucas' personal political Facebook page.  For questions, please contact Lucas for KC, P.O. Box 413054, Kansas City, Missouri 64141.”  If this is indeed a “personal political Facebook page” as the KCMO Public Records Center states in their response, there should not be official livestreams from City Hall, and no use of government resources to maintain this page.  Additionally, the page in question is listed as a “political candidate” page, and for most of the time it has been in use during Mayor Lucas’ term, he has not been a declared candidate for any office or reelection. He has another page which is unverified, entitled “Mayor Quinton D. Lucas”, with only a handful of posts over two years and a few hundred followers, though he on occasion will repost to his “Mayor Quinton Lucas” account from it.  No reasonable person would think the “Mayor Quinton Lucas” Facebook page was not his “official” account, and to be honest I initially believed the unverified “Mayor Quinton D. Lucas” account was a parody.

The “Mayor Quinton Lucas” page is for all intents and purposes his official page.  It regularly throughout the pandemic contained information on his emergency orders, and was one of the only ways to be able to effectively communicate and interact with our elected Mayor.  Though he uses the page for official actions, he seems to be hiding behind the “political candidate” designation so he can control the content, comments and followers without regard for first amendment rights.  I am aware of dozens of constituents who have been blocked by Mayor Lucas, and he defended his actions on a livestream by saying something to the effect of that he could block people who use vulgarities, tell outright lies, or are rude.  He stated that if you don’t follow his rules “you don’t get to speak”.  While I agree with the sentiment that people should not use vulgarities or lie, Mayor Lucas himself on January 19th, around the same time, Tweeted about Attorney General Eric Schmitt “I mean, f*ck this guy.”  Mayor Lucas does not hold this standard to himself or those who support him, nor is Mayor Lucas the arbiter of what is and is not true.  As a veteran, I spent 12 years in the MO Army National Guard, with a deployment to Iraq and don’t recall supporting and defending the Constitution for only speech that a local Mayor approves of.  If you go to his page you will find almost no dissenting opinions in the comments, but you will often see more comments are counted than you can read.  This is because Mayor Lucas hides comments from those who criticize him in addition to the constituents who he blocks completely.

In the case Knight First Amendment Inst. at Columbia Univ. v. Trump a unanimous panel of the 2nd Court of Appeals ruled that President Trump was using his personal Twitter account as “an official channel of communication” and in doing so had created a public forum.  Because of this he could not block constituents.  The “Mayor Quinton Lucas” Facebook page was listed on the Social Media Directory page until recently as his official page and has been tagged consistently on the City of Kansas City, MO Government Facebook page for the entirety of his term.  The Mayor has a prolific social media presence and regularly interacts as the Mayor, not making reference to any political campaign.  His Twitter account, @QuintonLucasKC, sees a comparable level of traffic and engagement from the Mayor and with constituents but he routinely blocks constituents there as well, including myself.  Mayor Lucas is a practicing attorney, a law lecturer, and he clerked for the 8th Circuit Court, and above all of that an elected Mayor; to think that he is not aware of this very high profile precedent would require the willing suspension of disbelief.

I previously had my Facebook account, Brian S. Hand, blocked by Mayor Quinton Lucas during his campaign and was unblocked after sending an email to the Mayor.  The block was only lifted after he had taken office as Mayor.  My account stayed active and able to comment until it was deleted in October of last year.  My current account had not been blocked until yesterday when I commented with my concerns about a homeless encampment at the end of the Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade which was sharing space with a play area for children.  Here is a link detailing the problem I was addressing, I was expressing my concern as the area was not clean and safe and my child and many others had been playing in the area without shoes.  I pointed out to him that in one of his pictures he was standing directly in front of it.  I told no lies, used no vulgarities or violated any other rule made up by Mayor Lucas, but now I am completely blocked. All of the information contained in that page is public record and I believe as a constituent I am entitled under the 1st Amendment to see and interact with these posts and not have my comments hidden or otherwise censored.  It’s shameful that a man who participated in the social justice protests on The Plaza, and who pardoned those involved, would so crassly and blatantly violate the most basic free speech rights of his constituents who have done nothing more than disagree with him on social media.  It is my sincerest hope that you, our elected representatives and those who are appointed civil servants, have the integrity to ensure that these civil rights violations by Mayor Lucas are not allowed to continue and that he is no longer allowed to systematically silence dissent on his social media accounts or anywhere else.  Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.


Brian S. Hand

Kansas City, MO


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