The long hot summer…
On August 1st, upon returning from Arizona I spoke with KC Police who confirmed that for several weekends hundreds of mostly black youths had gathered on the Plaza near the Cinemark. That there had been problems – but nothing major – maybe a little pepper spray. But no tear gas or "crowds running kind of things."
Not yet anyway.
That long lull before the storm came to an end last night when shots rang out, three teens were wounded and what had the makings of another Plaza mini-riot began to unfold.
"The police got it under control and cleared the Plaza pretty quick after that," says a witness.
Now here’s another take:
"Had breakfast with my KCMO PD buddy," says a source who asked not to be named. "Chaos at PD, City Hall, Highwoods. And Highwoods was up in Sly’s grill."
As in new KC Mayor Sly James.
"Cops are afraid to patrol the area for fear of getting shot," the source continues. "Many are demanding bullet proof vests if they have to work that area. They feel it’s only a matter of time before one of them gets shot. They know lots of the kids are carrying guns. Probably old, beat up, shitty, don’t-shoot-straight guns, but guns nonetheless.
"Plaza Merchants are getting in Highwood’s face demanding action. Employees are afraid to work nights on weekends. Particularly those businesses with outdoor exposure like PF Changs, Brio, Classic Cup and Cheesecake Factory. Many regular Plaza patrons have called, written or made statements to businesses that they are done. They’re taking their money elsewhere."
Worse yet, "Mayor Sly doesn’t have a clue," the source says. "He doesn’t seem to comprehend the depth of the problem. Even black ministers and leaders are telling him this requires bold action and not a Kumbaya moment. Back in the old days Charlie Wheeler would have called Corky Civella and the problem would have gone away. But they can’t make that call anymore."
Now after an entire summer of putting Band-Aids on everything, KC Mayor Sly James is vowing to take action.
Trouble is, it’s too late for James to address this year’s Plaza kid problems.
"Because it always goes away at the end of the summer after school starts," explains a civic leader familiar with the issue. "Once it gets a little bit cool outside, they’re gone."
Maybe next year…