We’ve got a funny news media in this town…
And I’m not just talking about the Star – Kansas City’s 800 pound gorilla – although count them in. The situation with young black kids hanging out in mostly white areas where they’re not wanted has been going on for years. More than 10.
None of this is new. And with rare exception, It’s not about buzzwords like "flash mobs."
I covered this at the Star for years in my column. More often than not when no one else at the newspaper was covering it. So allow me to shoot from the hip for a minute to make a point.
I can’t tell you how many times over the years I reported on the problems with young, urban blacks at AMC’s Ward Parkway theaters. I haven’t been out there at night this summer, but they still have the signs posted in the mall obviously pointed directly at those problems.
I covered the exact same troubles off and on for years at AMC’s Crown Center theaters. One night I got pelted from behind by kids in the crowd just walking down the sidewalk. They didn’t know who I was, just some lanky, white loser dude. City busses were brought in to load the kids on when the movies were over and transport them back to the inner city.
Sound a little racist? Crown Center sure as heck didn’t want those kids ’em hanging out front of the mall twidlling their thumbs.
Ultimately Crown Center’s theaters were closed and only guardedly were a couple screens allowed to reopen as a Screenland playing art movies no self respecting urban teen would be caught dead at.
Remember when the problem migrated to Johnson County in 2005 to the Cinemark Merriam?
Merriam Police instituted "no loitering" rules, the theater posted signs, locked its doors and met the problem head on.
Unlike its twin sister the Cinemark Palace on the Plaza which has been at the center of the problem. And not just this year, for years. I remember the show of force, Plaza Security and KCPD that were mustered in the middle of the street just out side the mall’s entrance. The giant flood lights installed overhead to make sure there would be no shadowy hanky panky going down and to discourage the kids from hanging there.
So when a spokesman for the Kansas City Police told me on the record in late July the Plaza problem had been going on most of the summer but that the local news media hadn’t covered it, I wasn’t surprised.
Now a couple shots ring out last Saturday while the mayor was down trying to sweep things under the carpet and suddenly it’s hell-bent-for-election time to fix the problem. Once and for all.
It’s a joke….
Pretty much anybody who’s been following how this game is played knows that with summer more-or-less up, cooler temps and rain on the way, that it was unlikey there would be a problem tonight. The forecast for rain today has been out for several days and unless something unusual happens, that oughta take care of the situation.
This way though, the mayor can claim some kind of victory as though last night and tonight’s show of force actually mattered.
The city and media made sure there was plenty about hoopla about last night, for example, but that was ridiculous. Hello! It’s a Saturday night problem, not a Friday night one.
Frankly I’m embarrassed for the Star reporters who got sent to the Plaza to "report" on a situation that didn’t exist as though great strides were being made because of the new curfew and show of force. Woulda looked about the same if they’d gone down last Friday.
Today’s the big day, for crying out loud.
But the end of summer, cooler temps and rain will go a helluva lot farther in keeping down tonight’s crowds than any curfew. Matter of fact, if there is a problem, despite the weather, it may well come about in the form of a protest against and because of the new curfew.
Anyway, look for more so-called news stories tomorrow from the folks who failed to report on the situation all summer long.