Protester interrupts Kansas City mayor's speech

March 20, 2013 9:44:29 AM PDT
An irate man commandeered a microphone from Kansas City Mayor Sly James during a speech Tuesday and ranted for several seconds before being tackled by the mayor's bodyguard.

James, a 61-year-old former Marine military policeman, wasn't hurt and appeared unfazed amid the interruption of his annual State of the City address by an unarmed man who bounded onto the stage of the Gem Theater.

The protester was placed in handcuffs and arrested, Police Chief Darryl Forte told The Kansas City Star ( ). The man's name was not immediately released.

Forte said the man's anger was not directed at the mayor. The chief did not specify the target of the man's complaints, but people in the audience said the man yelled and cursed about the performance of a City Council member.

James said afterward that he had looked to see whether the man had anything in his hands and did not see anything.

He quickly resumed the speech after the man was taken off the stage and said afterward he never felt in danger from the incident, which his spokesman, Danny Rotert, described as a "blur."

"The mayor has expressed that he understands the concerns raised by the gentleman. He wishes the method was different in expressing those concerns," Rotert told The Associated Press.

"We're certainly not sure why this gentleman chose to do what he did," he added. "We're glad nobody was hurt."