Hearne: Much Ado About Nothing on the Country Club Plaza

a seville OneLet’s talk about the rioting on the Plaza…

More to the point, the young black kids and teens who – like their mostly white counterparts – find the upscale shopping and dining Mecca to their liking as a safe, fun place to hang.

The main difference being, because they generally come from less affluent families, the kids don’t have much if any money to spend. Or other halfway appealing parts of town they can easily get to. And  of course, because of their number and the color of their skin, they make affluent whites and others uncomfortable – very uncomfortable. And that scares the bejeezus out of the owners of the Plaza and the retailers  nd restaurateurs that operate there.

Which makes for a lose-lose deal.

Because at best, even if nothing really awful happens, the paid Plaza rent-a-cops will continue to harass the kids and keep them moving, making them feel like the second class citizens they are.

That surprise you?

a plaza st_ pat's street scapeThen I’ve got news…anybody hanging on the Plaza who isn’t halfway well-dressed and with little to no dough in their pockets is basically persona non gratis.

And if they happen to be black…let’s not kid ourselves.

Yet while the Plaza may pass as the Evil Empire today when it comes to running off black kids, it’s hardly alone. It’s a game, anybody and everybody in the area can – and at times – has played.

Years ago I wrote about KC police rounding up black kids after the movies at Crown Center on Saturday nights, herding them into city busses and dumping them off in the bad parts of town they presumably came from. It wasn’t pretty and all Pitch editor C.J. Janovy could do was to take delight in recounting my being pelted with stuff by the kids while I was covering the story they missed.

black-kids-plaza-oneHallmark Cards was still a force to be reckoned with back then and – like the Plaza – wanted nothing to do with black kids running around loose on a Saturday night.

Cinemark in Merriam had its moments and Rainy Day Books honchos Vivien Jennings and Roger Doeren found out the hard way what can happen a handful of years back when somebody blasted out the back window while they were watching a movie. Things got so bad that for a while Cinemark locked down the theater lobby and posted strict rules for loitering teens.

Anybody who has attended movies at AMC’s Ward Parkway Theater over the years knows that it’s been an on-again, off-again  hotbed of black kiddie and teen gatherings with occasional incidents. To this day the mall has rules posted that make it clear the demographic they’re trying to discourage.

And don’t even get me started on Westport’s “black problems” over the years.

So when the headline in today’s Star screams, “Plaza chaos ‘no longer tolerated,’ chief says,” it’s just another in a long line of attempts by society to put the kibosh on black kids.

But face it, there really is no real cure for any of this.

As Kansas City grows more urban, more and more it’s going to have to deal with the type of urban issues larger cities have dealt with for decades. It’s part of growing up as a city.

LikeableBlendAnd short of a police state, there really is no way to stem this tide.

Not neighborhood dances, not midnight hoops games, not city busses, not platoons of off duty cops, not kid curfews, not flood lights aimed downward at the sidewalks, not PA systems blaring country music, not dollar cover charges, not closing down video arcades, not restricting the movies being shown to family classics and boring art films…

Nope, there are just too many poor kids who want a place that’s safe and fun to hang – just like the rich folks – and as long as the Country Club Plaza fits that description, count on seeing them there.

And count on the powers-that-be to be politicking and jaw boning about how they’re not going to continue to be “tolerated.”

Just try not to act surprised.


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46 Responses to Hearne: Much Ado About Nothing on the Country Club Plaza

  1. metallica lyrics as social advice says:




  2. CG says:

    Some good points Hearne. Due to the ‘black problem’ the powers that be on the Plaza have gone too far. There is no late night entertainment at all now. No night clubs, no dancing or upscale things to do after dining. Nothing big like it once was…therefore the Plaza is usually dead after 8 or 9 PM for the most part, a bar or two may have a decent bar crowd until say 11 at best, even weekends. Sad. Once the hub now a dud.

    I still love the area but it is sure slow these days. With rare exception its almost never full or energetic, ever. I hate to see that. Needs some good controlled night life for sure.

  3. chuck says:

    “Nope, there are just too many poor kids who want a place that’s safe and fun to hang – just like the rich folks – and as long as the Country Club Plaza fits that description, count on seeing them there.”

    Here in Appalachia (The author calls it, “The Big White Ghetto.), where the poverty, to me, seems even more grinding and hopeless, the difference between the two communities seems to be VIOLENCE.


    “Chief Logsdon has time to indulge his hobbies because the Big White Ghetto is different from most other ghettos in one very important way: There’s not much violent crime here. There’s a bit of the usual enterprise one finds everywhere there are drugs and poor people, which is to say, everywhere: Police have just broken up a ring of car burglars who had the inspired idea of pulling off their capers during church services, when all the good people were otherwise occupied. (The good people? One victim reported $1,000 in cash missing from the trunk of his car, and I’m putting an asterisk next to his name until I know where that came from.) But even the crime here is pretty well predictable.

    There’s a great deal of drug use, welfare fraud, and the like, but the overall crime rate throughout Appalachia is about two-thirds the national average, and the rate of violent crime is half the national average, according to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. Chief Logsdon is justifiably skeptical of the area’s reputation for drug-fueled crime. ”

    The violence on the Plaza and you can hear all about it if you speak to folks who have been there, in spite of the coverage of the Mayor’s dive into the bushes during a shoot out where 3 people got shot, is way, way under reported. Last weekend couples were pushed into the street, girlfriends and wives were insulted and groped and the usual chaos ensued tumuscent with violent portent.

    It’s the culture, not the economics that produces violent feral thugs who, when the numbers and deterants are absent, will “Knock Out” the Plaza and it’s patrons as we have seen time and again throughout the entire United States. Those folks with blood and treasure invested in business’ on the Plaza, would do well to cut thier losses and repair to safer climes.

    Yeah, that would be Kansas.

    Perception may not be reality unless you are looking at your P&L (Pun intended).

  4. Libertarian says:

    Councilman Jermaine Reed nailed it in the star article.

    He specifically mentioned parents not doing their jobs, and kids not behaving properly. He said midnight basketball is all fine and dandy, but you cant rely on the government to do a parents job.

    You might want to give Reed a call, Hearne.

    Methinks t’would be a good interview for the blog.

  5. balbonis moleskine says:

    You calling the esteemed Tony “slanderella” Botello and Alonzo “harold penner special” Washington exaggerating race baiters?

    Only Alonzo can help our crime problem!

  6. John Altevogt says:

    We lost the battle when we started paying people who couldn’t and wouldn’t even take care of themselves to spew out litters of feral, unsocialized brats.

    As for trying to paint these thugs as just ordinary kids, please. Bannister Mall is gone because of ordinary kids like these, Indian Springs is gone because of ordinary kids like these and blaming their victims for being uncomfortable around them is just downright insulting.

    • the dude says:

      So according to your logic we should just keep all black children (or any black people) from going anywhere white people want to ‘feel safe’?
      Uhhhh, OK.

    • admin says:

      Not trying to place blame, John.

      Just pointing out the reality of the situation; well-to-do people are very uncomfortable around these kids and it’s only going to get worse, if you will.

      Because as the population grows, so will the ranks of the poor and places like the Plaza, Westport, Ward Parkway and Crown Center are the closest, most attractive places for them to gravitate,

      And bright lights and loud country-western music and night time basketball will not chase or lure them away.

      We can’t hold back time.

      • chuck says:

        Well-to-do folks like Jesse Jackson and Theadore A. Mckee?

        “If I’m walking down a street in Center City Philadelphia at two in the morning and I hear some footsteps behind me and I turn around and there are a couple of young white dudes behind me, I am probably not going to get very uptight. I’m probably not going to have the same reaction if I turn around and there is the proverbial Black urban youth behind me. Now if I am going to have this reaction—and I’m a Black male who has studied marshal arts for twenty some odd years and can defend myself—I can’t help but think that the average white judge in the situation will have a reaction that is ten times more intense.” Judge Theodore A. McKee, U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

        “There is nothing more painful for me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start to think about robbery and then look around and see it’s somebody white and feel relieved.” The Reverend Jesse Jackson.

        It’s not economics Hearne, it’s the culture of violence at a granular level, that is the cornerstone and pride of African American culture. A violent sub cultural behaviour that is lionized in Hollywood, obfuscated in the 4th Estate, excused by teh community and encoraged de facto by the Attorney General and President.

        Over the last 50 years, the American Maginot Line we thought would repel chaos, anarchy, riots and civil unrest, was equlity of opportunity, Civil Rights Legislation, trillions and trillions of “even the playing field” dollars and restrictions on whites that favored blacks (eg Affirmative Action etc etc infinity). The result of those efforts is an ongoing black on white intifada, the culmination now seen all across America as cities are destroyed, citizens are “knocked out” and a per capita African American criminality, dramatically disproportionate to population wreaks havoc. We have become heuristically crippled in the crush of the prime time propaganda from our Main Stream Media Ministries of Truth. Smooth between the legs like Ken Doll Fisher Kings, unable to react to obvious facts and reality in fear of a racial scarlet letter.

        Even our black mayor is emasculated in the face of political correctness. E. Cleaver, our mayor in the 90’s, when presented with this same problem on the Plaza, solved it in 2 weeks. I was there, I saw it. He sent the cops down to the Plaza with plenty of Paddy Wagons, hauled people out of cars, stopped them on the streets and arrested those with warrants, or those causing disturbances. 2 weeks.

        Now, unctuous rationalizations of violent behaviour by lickspittle politicians (Jermaine Reed) seek to justify violence (Make no mistake about it, it is violent and pervasive at worst, intimidation at least.) with straw man arguments and 2nd partying not only the blame, but the solutions.

        There are few, if any better angels to turn to from the African American community.

        Go ahead and call Jermaine Reed. I am sure we will all be astonished with his solutions.

      • John Altevogt says:

        I understand that they are uncomfortable, and for good reason. And no, you probably can’t hold back time, or the demise of the Plaza. There are far too many places in the metro area where people can go and not be hassled by a bunch of punks. Add to that the hassles with parking around the Plaza and the fact that KCMO cops are essentially revenue enhancement officers and there’s little reason to even go near KCMO anymore.

        You can’t force people to mingle with thugs to salvage an administration that doesn’t have the will to solve the problem. Welcome to Detroit south.

        It used to be whenever company would come in from out of town that one stop would be an evening meal on the Plaza. Not any more. Maybe a quick stop during the daytime, but why bother otherwise, if then?

  7. Steveo says:

    Count on me seeing them them there (at the Plaza)? Ah, no, I will be doing my drinking , eating, and fucking out in the burbs, thank you.

    The Plaza is hard to get to, harder to get home from, and not worth the hassle. Enjoy the show. I will not be watching.

  8. Rich says:

    Black urban teens are targeted because they’re the demographic that’s shooting people on the Plaza. As long as their communities choose to follow frauds like Jackson and Sharpton, don’t expect any major social changes.

    • the Polar Bear says:

      Well spoken, while I understand HC’s prose, reality is quite different. Reality is that when “groups of black kids congregate” usually trouble follows. Having been on the Plaza and witnessed the insults, groping, and general lawlessness that has originated with the black kids, I can tell you one thing. Like it or not, it’s reality. There will be NO business on the Plaza after 10 o’clock if this continues. I know many, who will no longer frequent the Plaza at night or on weekends. While Highwoods reported record 4th qtr profits, one has to wonder if they used “fuzzy math”.

      Bottom line is simple. When I was a kid growing up, I didn’t have much money. Guess what? I didn’t go to places that I could not afford. Just because you have “the right” to go somewhere doesn’t mean you should go there. To this day I don’t shop Tivol. Can I afford to shop Tivol? Yes. I can buy anything in their store, yet I never set foot in the place. I don’t forget Harold Tivol telling me, “we don’t do business with people like that”, when I confronted him about expensive Rolex watches being stolen and sold from the Plaza. No, this is not about whether or not your poor, and don’t have much money. It’s about being a law abiding kid or a jungle ape. The trouble on the Plaza is caused by the latter and must be stamped out. Reference: Indian Springs, Bannister, 63rd Landing, Westport, P&L, Zona to list a few.

  9. Rico_suave says:

    Blacks are seven times more likely than people of other races to commit murder, and eight times more likely to commit robbery.

    Blacks are three times more likely to use a hand gun, and twice more likely to use a knife.

    Blacks are 39 times more likely to commit a violent crime against whites then vice versa, and 136 times more likely to commit a robbery.

    Forty-five percent of black crime is against whites, 43 against other blacks, and 10 percent against Hispanic.



  10. Mike says:

    John Altevogt hit it right on the head.

    “As for trying to paint these thugs as just ordinary kids, please. Bannister Mall is gone because of ordinary kids like these, Indian Springs is gone because of ordinary kids like these and blaming their victims for being uncomfortable around them is just downright insulting”

    And pull your pants up! Do some reading about saggin’ pants.

    ‘the “gang” style of baggy pants showing your underwear (called “jailin”) was originally a prison code signifying that the man wearing them was willing to be, er, the “girlfriend” of some other man/men’

  11. chuck says:

    Hearne, I think your next article should be just as topical as this one was.

    Concussions and NFL players. Here is Ray Rice, dragging his girlfriend out of an elevator after he punched her out in a casino. I m assuming that she wouldn’t shut up. Concussions are a big, big problem in the NFL and it is constantly a topic of conversation in the media. Lets hope Ray is ok. I can’t see what the guy walking up to Ray in the video is doing, but he is probably holding up his fingers for Ray to count. If Ray is like many players in the NFL, I hope there are not too many fingers in use. That would be unfair.


  12. Tropical says:

    There are poor white kids in the city that seem to find “Safe” Places to hang out and do their thing? Where do they do it?

    Someone commented ” He said midnight basketball is all fine and dandy, but you cant rely on the government to do a parents job”
    Problem is the government is taking care of the parents and the parents pass the same lack of responsibility on to their kids. Take away the free food, housing, medicine etc. and people will have to work, kids will have to work and that will get them off the streets.

    • admin says:

      Even poor white kids have more options and appear less threatening when and where they do hang out…

      They’re not noticed like the black kids are.

      Hence your having to pose the question, “Where do they hang out?”

      I think the answer is, within reason, wherever they want to.

      • Steveo says:

        Whether or not the black kids are trouble, they apparently are hanging out wherever they want to. Just like your theoretical but unseen white kids.

        And supporting the rights of large groups of unattended teens to assemble is almost as insane as electing a Community organizer to fix a capitalist economy.

        We all know how this will end.

        • Stomper says:

          Yeah, how insane was that.

          Clearly should have just reelected the same guys that broke it in the first place. Glad the majority of voters remembered Einsteins’s definition of insanity. Repeating the same behavior and expecting a different outcome.

          • expat says:

            Obama is a tool for Wall Street just like Bush was. After Bush left Obama doubled down on all his policies and did nothing to fix the underlying problems. To not see that is a particular kind of blindness… Actually Steveo is right, Obama had no qualifications for the job and it shows. He’s unable to ask the kind of tough questions that need asking and make the kinds of difficult decisions that need to be made.

          • expat says:

            …and in fact it was a confluence of community organizers, threats from Clinton’s Justice Department and political correctness that got the mortgage crisis ball rolling to begin with. Bush just let the good times roll and it blew up on him. Obama has done nothing but perpetuate this aberration – because it’s his base. And now we see the exact same mistakes being made a second round.


          • Stomper says:

            I don’t disagree that Obama was not the best democrat. My perspective is that government needs to be a participant in the solving the problem and that’s a democratic approach to the role of government. A republican approach would be for the smallest government participation with the lowest taxes possible. The belief is that with all that money the corporations, small businesses, employers of all sizes would now be able to hire workers. Unfortunately, it’s a demand for their products and services that causes employers to hire, not money in the bank. In good times, the private sector spends about 70% of our GDP and the government takes the remaining 30%. When the private sector stops spending, in my liberal view, the government has a responsibility to step in and replace that demand. This can be done by what many term “stimulus”. Put money into the economy, create demand, money that turns around and is used to buy products and services, causing employers to now hire. A highway jobs bill where the feds give money to the states to repair/replace interstate highways would create demand. Extending unemployment creates demand. That money goes to house payments, car loans, groceries. Now you’ve created a tax stream income. Government is not the enemy. Yeah, I’d prefer it if the private sector was cooking but when it stumbles, I believe the government has a responsibility to act. When the stated goal of republicans was to obstruct this president at every step they are not part of the solution, they are the problem. Obama’s hands are pretty much tied tight when the Tea Party House says no to anything democrats, and often even moderate republicans, support. To not see that is a particular kind of blindness.

            What I’m saying here ExPat, is that it’s not about individual personalities. It’s strictly about how one sees the role of government. Going into the 2008 election year, the O man was not in my top 3-4 best candidates. Once he got the nomination, my vote was cast. I’ve said it here before. The absolute worst democrat is ALWAYS better than the absolute best republican.

            Just sayin’

          • Stevo says:

            Wow. You have a lot more faith in politicians than I do

          • Stomper says:

            Actually, Steveo, we probably agree on that topic. There are plenty of slimeballs on both sides of the aisle.

          • expat says:

            Stomper I don’t necessarily disagree with you about stimulus (although the current economy is tending to prove Keynes wrong) however the left/right thing is a false dichotomy. Billions of stimulus directed at the stock market and banks – the FRB’s current policy- is not going to help anyone but Wall Street rent seekers. It hasn’t increased demand and mostly those stimulus dollars are wasted or provide a very bad ROI, and allow the 1% to keep gobbling a bigger piece of the pie. Yes, that’s different the stimulus you mention (which is a version of Obama’s shovel-ready-projects flop) but it’s the stimulus we have. Someone with a bit of humility and introspection would ask themselves if maybe their policies aren’t good; Obama seems to enjoy golfing more. Or maybe his policies are doing exactly what he expected and we are all suckers for assuming otherwise.

            If I was President I’d start by making a public spectacle of John Corzine and other crooks taking a perp walk. Then bring back Glass-Steagall unchanged. Just for a start.

          • Stomper says:

            Great comments Ex Pat. Much common ground here.

            I agree with your opinion that the stimulus out there provided by the FRB to banks and Wall Street is misdirected. Yes, I’m talking about $ going to the people that will turn around and spend it, creating demand in our economy, not the accounts of the Big Banks and Wall Street.

            I agree that Corzine would look good in an orange jumpsuit.

            I agree with your opinion on Glass-Steagall.

            I appreciate the fact you’re not enamored with BO but it appears there may be a bit of liberal leanings hidden deep in your psyche. Embrace it Ex Pat !!

            🙂 🙂

  13. Earney says:

    Last year, after a play, my wife and I were assaulted by teens on the Plaza. I was hit in the head when I wouldn’t shake a teenager’s hand. We haven’t been back in the daytime, to say nothing of the night.

  14. hot harley says:

    you’re right …..all ado about nothings…
    was down at plaza and talked with differenet owners and they
    hada huge xmas….business has picked up since the
    weather has gotten better…
    capital grille said they’ve had some huge nights over the last
    2 weeks (probably people getting cabin fever)…
    retailers are waiting in line to rent space….and except rfor you
    and tonys few readeers…..I can see the plaza being packed
    all spring and summer like always…
    gramm is booming….
    this problem will be taken care of…
    and although I venture fewvtimes to the plaza itstill have the majic…
    and glaze….they don’t need clubs or the night life you remember when
    you were in your 50’s and 40’s…..they wanted a different direction…
    and they got it….I see this as finally waking up this city that things
    have changed and they’ll have to adapt and handle the situation.
    The answer is not hard…enforce laws on the books…..and how about
    getting rid of that movie theatre all togethe5r….that’s themain source
    of problems……get them out of there like Westport got rid of the hip hop

  15. expat says:

    Try this it’s equal opportunity (if age-ist).


  16. dan says:

    Much to do about nothing is the perfect title.

    Things change KC. I grew up 2 blocks away from the plaz, went to catholic school, close to loose. They are not there to rob you. Haha. The’re not there to stab you in the face (as louie ck would say). Their just black. Chill out. Grab a drink.

  17. plaza rent a cops have been harrassing teens since i was a white one back in the 70s.no ones kids need me or you to find,organize,or pay for them to have something to do anytime,unless its tax paid school activities.my kids,2 teen boys ,dont go out every weekend because they are teen boys.the oldest,who thinks hes a fashionite shops on plaza and so do black teens, do not mistake these boys with crowds running wild,call it what you will.its ridiculous to say they belong there,acting as they do.they belong in their rooms,grounded by their parents athe least.Parents…they are not just having a quiet evening strpll,so get off it.Lastly,plaza could lose a few of the beggars while their at it.ok,done,come at me…

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