Let’s not mince words, a Kansas City Council proposed ordinance for a year round kid curfew is nothing more than a nod to corporate interests on the Plaza to prevent young black kids from gathering there at night and scaring off affluent white customers.
There, I said it.
Arm-in-arm with that comes the proposal to expand the so-called “Club KC” from three to five “community centers” on Friday and Saturday nights starting May 24th and continuing through August 10th.
Based in part by this bit of wisdom uttered by KC Mayor Sly James:
“It’s always been true that kids need a place to hang out.”
Hold it right there…
And the last thing they want to do is go hang en masse at some park in a shelter so police and city officials can ride herd over them.
Yet for decades this has been the battle cry by merchants and politicians anxious to rid themselves of young black kids who they feel are scaring off customers and costing them money.
They were saying the same thing in my 1993 Harris House column:
“Police, city officials, merchants, urban crime activists and civil rights specialists have met several times this year to plan ways to prevent past problems with fighting. One of their objectives is to find other places for under-age patrons to go.”
“I think it’s a great idea,” Nigro says. “They got about 7,000 people on eight weekends over the course of last year. That’s (nearly) 1,000 people a night…You’re getting 1,000 people a week off the streets, what’s wrong with that?”
Actually, it’s 875 kids per weekend or 400 and change per night, a relatively tiny slice of Kansas City’s kid population pie. That still leaves tens of thousands of kids to fan out to sexier locals like the Plaza, Power & Light District, Ward Parkway, Martini Corner and yes, even Westport.
And it doesn’t at all address the Plaza’s continuing daytime kid crowd problem.
“Nothing ever erupts during the day,” Nigro says. “And they’re never in large groups of 100 or more on the Plaza during the day. They’re not doing anything bad in broad daylight.”
“Hearne, nobody wants ’em, why do you think everybody’s been chasing them around for decades?”
All of that said, Nigro applauds the city for its efforts and thinks Club KC will grow, possibly enough to pay for itself.
“It’s just like any first year event,” Nigro says. “I think the crowds will continue to grow and they’re off to a great start. Sooner or later they’re going to be able to charge a little money to help pay for it and the city will have some success with it. And the city needs to think about getting a sharp business person in there to run the program for them.”