A video of a Missouri activist's incendiary address to the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners this week has been viewed more than 9 million times in two days — and changed the life of the woman who delivered the remarks.
Keiajah "KJ" Brooks, 20, told BuzzFeed News that the attention and support she has received since the clip went viral will allow her to work full time as a community organizer and activist.
"I know a lot of people from the outside looking in might say, 'Oh, she quit her job for 15 minutes of fame' — but if you know me, you'd know that this is what I've wanted to do: deep, intentional grassroots work," she said.
Brooks is a leader in the Kansas City Black Lives Matter movement and cofounder of the Chingona Collective, "a multicultural, queer-inclusive, intersectional organization led by Black, Indigenous, and Latinx women who live lives dedicated to the liberation of our peoples domestically and abroad."
She told BuzzFeed News that she signed up to deliver remarks at Tuesday's police commissioners board meeting on behalf of "all the Black people who have been terrorized by the [Kansas City Police Department]" and described the board's members as being complicit "in the brutalization and murder of Black people in Kansas City."
According to data from the Mapping Police Violence project, Kansas City has the 10th highest rate of police killings of any city in the United States.
Police Chief Rick Smith has come under fire for his department's handlings of the protests that erupted in the city over the summer following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. The KCPD has also been criticized for a lack of transparency and accountability after three Black men — Ryan Stokes, Terrance Bridges, and Donnie Sanders — were killed by police in recent years.
Brooks began her fiery remarks in the video by warning the board members, "Fair warning: I’m not nice and I don’t seek to be respectable."
"I’m not here begging anything of soulless white folks and self-preserving Black folks," she continues in the video. "You get one life, and you all — every one of you in this room — have chosen profits over people, and that's pathetic.
"So I’m going to spend the next two minutes reading y'all for filth, something I’m sure no one has ever done."
Brooks then went on to call out the board's individual members in very personal terms.
Board President Don Wagner was described as an "out-of-touch and disconnected old white person with nothing but pure apathy seeping through the bulging veins of his paper-colored skin."
Voting member Nathan Garrett was referred to as "the gentleman in the vomit-colored Men’s Wearhouse suit ... who exudes white privilege and is the epitome of mediocrity."
(Members of the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners did not respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.)
A recording of Brooks's remarks was posted on Twitter on Tuesday night and quickly went viral.
Brooks told BuzzFeed News that all of the speakers before her "were very proper, [saying], 'Good morning, thank you for this opportunity to speak.'
"I don't seek to be respectable. I don't want to be your friend. I'm not here to make you comfortable. I'm here to call you out."
She added, "I think killing people is mean. Words permeate air. Bullets permeate people.
"I will never be fearful of calling people to the carpet, holding people accountable for what they do or say. Nobody is ever going to be able to buy my silence or my complicity."