Hearne: Sensationalistic ‘Coverage’ of Black Kids on Plaza

Country-Club-PlazaWhat’s in a word?

Plenty when it comes to terms like “flash mob.” Especially in regard to the recent nighttime gatherings of urban youth on the Country Club Plaza.

Take Saturday night when between 100 and 125 or so “black kids” wandered the Plaza and surrounding area – two were arrested – one for fighting, another for possession of a gun.

Violent Teen Flash Mob” was how Tony’s Kansas City foolishly described the action.

Hold it right there…

Based upon my discussions with Kansas City Police and others, not a single word in the above description is “accurate.”

7871172_origFor starters, a flash mob is defined as “a group of people mobilized by social media.”

As opposed to the quite common gatherings of dozens of black youth who roam the Plaza on weekends – both day and night – on a regular basis. Often as they make their way to and from Cinemark’s Palace on the Plaza movie theater and/or at Mill Creek Park near the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain.

“I don’t think we ever called it a ‘flash mob,’ ” says a KC police spokeswoman. “We would not classify it as a ‘flash mob.’ It’s just a gathering of youths.”

As for TKC’s misuse of the term, “Oh, he tends to sensationalize everything,” the spokeswoman quips.

Secondly, a gathering of 100 to 125 youth spread across the entire Plaza – having observed similar crowds – is hardly what most people would call a mob. And with only two arrests, hardly “a disorderly or riotous crowd of people” or “a crowd bent on or engaged in lawless violence.”

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 5.46.55 PMFact is most of the kids were not engaged in any such activities.

Despite the fact that as anyone who frequents the Plaza knows, the upscale shopping enclave tends to be more than a little uncomfortable with the presence of practically any black kids.

Not even the word “teenagers” is really accurate; police used the word “kids” to describe the crowd which obviously included teenagers. Yet outside of two arrests, the only difficulties described were “some traffic issues.”

Traffic issues on the Plaza? Get out of town!

Seriously, people. I spoke with comedy impresario Craig Glazer this morning, who after reading TKC’s description of the “violent flash mob” and speaking to a friend described the scene to me as having involved around 2,000 unruly black kids.

Naturally Kansas City Star columnist Mary Sanchez couldn’t let the opportunity pass – even though she apparently wasn’t even there – to offer up another naive solution to the urban youth gatherings on the Plaza.

“Get to the parents…” Sanchez demanded. “Track down every adult who was in any way responsible for that child’s access to the gun. Prosecute them if possible.”

Easier said than done, says Sgt. Roy Murry of the KCPD’s crimes against children unit. 

“I can tell you that unless the parent can be proved to be aware of a juvenile’s actions, we’re not going to go after the parent,” Murry says. “Not criminally – only if the parent can be proved to be aware of what the child is doing, and even that’s a stretch.”

And good luck tracking down who sold the kid a gun.

There are a number of reasons not to run around arresting kid’s parents, Murry says.

“First of all, it’s probably going to have to be a city charge and you’d be tying up the courts,” he explains. “I can see the pros and cons, but there’s probably going to be a lot more cons.”

Starting with, “The juvenile is the one committing the crime” – not the parent – Murry says.

keep-calm-and-blame-it-on-my-parents“I mean, if somebody’s kid does something wrong, you can’t go after the parents,” says criminal attorney David Scott Whinery, Esquire. “People don’t know what their kids are doing. That’s just a knee-jerk reaction.”

So yes, it’s far more fun, sexy and sensationalistic to describe what’s become in recent years a typical, small gathering of black youths on the Plaza as a “violent flash mob.”

And yes, it’s easy to read a police chief’s Twitter (when you’re not even on the scene) and pontificate on how law should be enforced.

But how about a little accurate “reporting” and maybe some educated suggestions on how to improve matters by some of the experts actually involved in the situation?

Just saying…




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59 Responses to Hearne: Sensationalistic ‘Coverage’ of Black Kids on Plaza

  1. mike t. says:

    no, hearne… it was a FLASH MOB ATTACKS THE PLAZA!!! ARRESTS MADE!!! WHITE PATRONS FLEE SCENE!!!! (all in red thank you.)

    ah, I feel better already. great googly moogly….

  2. mike says:

    As long as these kids aren’t illegally parking motorcycles in front of the coffee shop, who cares?

  3. paulwilsonkc says:

    Do you see a pattern here?
    1. Indian Springs
    2. The Landing
    3. Bannister Mall
    4. The Country Club Plaza

    Prediction; 5 years from today Cerner leaves NKC, buys the Plaza and makes it their new campus; Harley will negotiate the sale.

    • Jack Springer says:

      I had a cousin who worked at Dillards (at the time The Jones Store) who said that when city buses were allowed to bring people to Bannister Mall it would kill the mall and the store ….. she was correct.

      Black youth destroyed Bannister Mall — don’t let it happen to the Country Club Plaza.

      Does the shopping center in western KCK allow city buses?

    • admin says:

      Don’t you mean, bagel boy will negotiate the sale?

      • paulwilsonkc says:

        Yes, sorry, bagel boi. And speaking of said bagel blunder, he saw no empty spaces on the Plaza? That makes him… wr wr wr wr wroooooooong. I know of one huge one.

  4. Big D in the O says:

    Youth Issues…It’s like Whack-a-Mole…I predict they will come down with a strong police presence on the Palaaaza and in a year the issue will once again be a Westport issue…until the big mallet falls on Westport sending the problem back to the Plaza. Kids these days…I tell ya…

  5. slick says:

    Armed 14-year-olds on the Plaza rise way beyond the level of ‘hijinks’. When the predictable event finally occurs, it certainly won’t be fun anymore and Highwoods will never be able to get the magic back.

    • admin says:

      I think the days of the “magic” are history…

      Meaning, Kansas City is an urban city today, not a white Baby Boomer boom town, and the Plaza is right there in the eye of that – not so much storm – but population and demographic shift.

      It’s no longer a “Leave it to Beaver” world.

      Then again, Brookside seems to have survived and thrived.

      • expat says:

        Yeah just get over it losers. The town is taken over by animals and you can’t do anything about it – except bend over and accept it. So sayeth the manly Hearne.

      • slick says:

        I disagree. I believe the average Kansas Citian STILL thinks of the Plaza as a fun, relaxing area and doesn’t believe they are putting their family in danger when there. That will change instantly when the first 9mm round takes a life. Highwoods, the tenants on the Plaza (some who have made investments in the tens of millions of dollars, if not more), and the whole of Kansas City needs to recognize this is a zero-sum game. Minimizing the issue is really just a form of pushing the “easy button” instead of doing the hard work to solve a very difficult problem. I believe our current Mayor and Police Chief are well-meaning, but afraid of confronting this issue in a rational way.

        This city owes it to all of its citizens, not the least of which are the embattled law-abiding majority living in Kansas City’s East Side, to provide a safe environment in which to live and work. Until you make a major commitment to protect the citizens of the East Side instead of acquiring “toys” (think the trolley), the problems that are a out of sight for the more affluent areas of the city will eventually spread and affect the city as a whole.

        White Kansas City would like to believe that all residents of the East Side are drug dealers and gangsters, but the reality is the vast majority of good people are under siege by a fractional number of criminals. Imagine trying to raise a child in the midst of the chaos that is allowed–and I do mean allowed–to ensue there on a daily basis.

        I do not know the sure-fire answer, but suspect it lies in a giant investment in law enforcement presence so that the East Side becomes a dangerous place for those that choose not to obey the law rather than vice-versa, thereby allowing the good to thrive and the bad to die off. This strategy is not politically comfortable because it requires a long-term, unwavering dedication to serve those that live within the law, and a ruthless stance against those that prey upon them. We have to decide who is more deserving of society’s protection, the law-abiding citizens who want to live their lives in peace, or the thugs who are exerting their will because society is not providing them an adequate level of pain in return for their bad behavior.

        This tough-love strategy won’t work overnight, but if we can dramatically change the environment so that children are not driven by peer-pressure or their own survival instincts to associate with the gang or drug lifestyle, the benefits could be enormous. The key is to recognize there are many more good children than bad, but the small number of bad are allowed to exert a level of influence that is unacceptable in any civilized society.

        Bottom line, the Plaza is merely the canary expiring in the coal mine, and Kansas City needs to realize that time is running short. Cracking heads, as long as they are the right heads, may be the politically incorrect but proper course to take. It will be expensive and unpleasant, but doing nothing will be a game-ender.

        • admin says:

          I dunno, expat…

          What do you think should be done, build a moat around it?

          • admin says:

            The Plaza has long had its rapes, muggings and shootings, slick. They’ve just been really good at buttoning things up.

            Do you really think a single killing would kill the Plaza? If that’s the case, they’re in trouble. Because nobody, no place is immune.

            If it hasn’t happened already, it very likely will.

          • expat says:

            It’s not an easy problem to solve (especially when good police work itself is outlawed as a civil rights violation), but giving up without trying is definitely not the way. Fatalism enables wrongdoers.

        • bigtimeharley says:

          the politicians don’t get it.
          they don’t care. But they better.
          Because the tsunami is coming!
          we’ve neglected the urban core and its going to haunt
          all of us.
          we’d better get going..the clock is ticking!!!!!!!!

  6. P Bear says:

    While Mr. Christopher chooses to take shots at a competitor, many who lived on the Plaza for years now choose to avoid the place like the plague.

    Snarky commentary aside, give me 125 young black hoodrats on the Plaza and you have a “mob” of problems.

    Let’s take a look at the physical makeup of the Plaza. What, about 10 squares from Mill Creek on the East to the West end by Cinemark, and 47th on the North and Turd Creek on the South. Give or take a couple. Now take your 125 or so black hoodrats and divide them into groups of 10. They have the Plaza covered. Or perhaps a better word would be “OVER-RUN”.

    While we realize that Mr. Christopher, feared in Lawrence, and a solid bad-ass, running with the likes of Craig Glazer and “Hot Harley”, most of us common citizens, rather than dressing in our Super Hero outfits to shop or dine on the Plaza, just AVOID IT. That’s the hard truth reality of what’s happening.

    Aside from rhetoric, coming from folk that don’t live on the Plaza and/or never have, this problem is much bigger than you think. Talk to Glen Stephenson off the record and listen to his rant’s about the issue.

    No, while the Bear doesn’t buy into all of Tony’s sensational hot air hipster farts, on this issue, he is dead on.

    • admin says:

      Get real, P Bear…

      So there were 125 “hood rats,” eh?

      No wonder you think Mr. T is “dead on.”

      Do you ever look up words before you use them?

      First of all, there weren’t even 125 teenagers down there, nor was it a flash mob gathering, nor were they slutty “ghetto ass girls” nor were anything approaching the majority of the people engaged in “scandalous activity in order to achieve a goal or bad image.”

      There were two arrests, wild man. Even the police say it was largely subdued.

      Guess you would know better than the police though, since you were not down there.

      FYI, I’m on the Plaza all the time, shopping, dining, hanging. And I’ve seen the kids – both day and night – including some “bad” ones along with the mostly sheepish, out-of-place looking ones.

      Of course the Plaza doesn’t want ANY of them. I don’t have to talk to Glen Stephenson off the record or on to get that.

      And forget about my “competitor” – competitor for what, cheesiest cheesecake award? – TKC doesn’t even accept advertising.

      The issue is trying to be halfway close to accurate in reporting on something rather than trying to be sensationalistic for sensationalism’s sake. Obviously the gross inaccuracies you read appealed to your biases so knock yourself out!

  7. chuck says:

    Tony’s Penny Dreadful? No. Plaza “Flash Mobs” are a TKC baliwick, no doubt and the epnoymous TKC has delivered, on dozens and dozens of occasions, first hand reports, interviews, quotes, pictures and details concerning the ongoing struggle with African American youth and the concomitant violence. Just two years ago, the Mayor, in front of the Cheesecake Factory, was forced to take evasive action, during a fire fight that resulted in three casualties from gunshot wounds. Hearne’s efforts to imply that the violence, intimidation and assaults on the Plaza is apocryphal and the scholars victims of the innate brutality of the Imperium are another effort, though writ small, to hypnotize the chickens.

    In this town and all over Amrica, “Flash Mobs” are no joke. Colin Flaherty’s “White Girl Bleed A Lot”, covers some of the thousands of instances of Black Mob Violence that has, is and will continue to destroy areas like the Plaza and entire cities in it’s wake. Last summer, the city of Chiraq (Chicago) was forced to shut down parts of the entire city 4 times because of Black Mob Violence. Last month, in Louisville the same thing. This is not, in any way, some harmless phenomenon, there are injuries, both in blood and money which impact us all.

    ” Not even the word “teenagers” is really accurate; police used the word “kids” to describe the crowd which obviously included teenagers. Yet outside of two arrests, the only difficulties described were “some traffic issues.”

    Lumping in “traffic issues” with a 14 year old, in PF Changs, on a busy weekend, with a loaded Glock, seems to me, to draw a straight line reference, from one offense, to the other offense. Reasonable folks, would, in my opinion, have to play it safe and assume that a loaded Glock in PF Changs, implies criminal intent. How close did this city come to a different headline in TKC, but for luck?

    There is no doubt, that sub human behaviour, defies predictive analysis. But lets try. Pretending, after all of the unabiguated evidence to the contrary, that these “Flash Mobs” are dancing in the streets as pictured above and are innocent of the charges leveled, is personally dangerous and bad public policy which, if followed, will leave still more citizens in harm’s way. These “Flash Mobs” have proven to be inimically disposed to not only Plaza patrons, but the police. There is, categorical evidence that the repetative destruction wreaked on a city by “Flash Mobs” can be devestating for the victims.

    “Get to the parents…” Sanchez demanded. “Track down every adult who was in any way responsible for that child’s access to the gun. Prosecute them if possible.”

    Ms. Sanchez, may be grasping at straws, but who can blame her? I think we all know, that panaceas come and go and are, by definition, ultimately dependent on simplification. That said, her (Sanchez) point about tracking down the parents is a good start. Some city officials have called for merchants on the Plaza to kick into a fund to provide entertainment for “Flash Mobs” so they wouldn’t tear up the city, perhaps they should all kick into a fund, that sues the sh*t out of parents who find their children in custody on the Plaza with Glocks. Unctuous rationalizations of violent behaviour has not and is not helpful.

    • chuck says:

      By the way, here are quotes from the KC Star during another “Flash Mob” incident, on the Plaza, on Easter a couple of years ago. The use of “Social Media” to organize this gathering of “youths” is mentioned.


      “A growing number of youths had begun loitering on the Plaza in recent weeks with trouble erupting Easter weekend.

      Police estimated 300 to 500 youths gathered April 3, caused fights and displayed gang signs. Police used pepper spray to break up several fights. Officers arrested a 17-year-old in a car with a gun.

      Police said they also learned last week that youths were using social media Web sites to organize and encourage friends to gather Saturday night on the Plaza. They heard Saturday morning from some area high school officials that there might be trouble on the Plaza.

      The department sent additional officers to the Plaza about 6 p.m. Saturday to break up any gatherings of youths before they got too big. But as the night went on, the crowd of kids, mostly ages 11 to 17, swelled.

      Then about 200 to 300 juveniles left the theater and were joined by other youths who were either dropped off by parents or arrived by bus.

      Fights and stampedes

      Fights broke out, youths stampeded down the streets, and groups blocked entrances and exits to businesses, police said. A 16-year-old girl suffered abrasions when she was trampled during one stampede.

      At Pennsylvania Avenue and Nichols Road, the Grandview couple, in their 20s, said a group of 15 young males accosted them and knocked a cup of coffee out of the woman’s hand. The juveniles hit the woman, knocking her to the ground. They stole her purse and kicked and punched the man until the woman threw herself on top of him to protect him. The man suffered minor cuts and swelling, police said.

      People could not walk down the sidewalk, and traffic could not flow because of the crowds. The horse carriage ride that operates on the Plaza had to shut down.

      Police arrested a 15-year-old boy after he lifted up his shirt and showed what appeared to be a gun to various teenagers across the street with whom he was arguing. Police recovered a toy gun from the boy’s waistband.

      Some youths grabbed flowers and tried to ruin landscaping, police said.

      Police said a large fight broke out in the Winstead’s parking lot and officers found a teen lying on the asphalt with a large bruise to his forehead and side of his head. He could barely speak. They think the victim was hit in the head with a pipe.

      In addition to the crimes police observed, they received about 35 calls for help, mostly for disturbances and fighting.”

      Denying the overwhelming empirical evidence, which is consistant throughout the US, of who participates in these “Flash Mobs” and the damage they actually cause is conterproductive and pernicious with respect to the safety of citizens, but, unfortunatley is consistant with the philosophy that brought us all to this place and time.

      • admin says:

        Chuck that was a couple, three years ago and it was considered and reported to be a form of “flash mob.”

        Because once it started it grew rapidly as word spread.

        According to the flash mob folks, that sort of thing still isn’t considered an actual flash mob, but as you undoubtedly know, gatherings of a hundred or more youths hanging about the Plaza on weekends is pretty much routine these days.

        I remember reporting on this one too.

        Bill Nigro was down there with his trolleys still running and talked about police cars swirling thru the Plaza streets, sirens blaring.

        Uh, that was then…

  8. Libertarian says:

    There’s no disputing the common denominator.

  9. Jack Springer says:

    If the current black rage on the Plaza is not stopped … it will be the end of the Plaza. If they succeed and take over the area then it will turn into another black-on-black murder area — something no media site in KC has the balls to even talk about.

    • admin says:

      I think just about every media site in KC that’s not trafficking in like food or fashion is doing just that, jack – talking about this.

      Rage seems to be a way too strong word though based upon what I generally see and what was actually reported, not just written for the fun of using colorful words

      • Jack Springer says:

        I’ve never seen a local news story about black-on-black violence ever on the local media.

        It’s the cause of most crime in KC and verboten to talk about.

        I suspect we’ll see a negative story about KU before we see an in-depth story about black-on-black violence in KC. (in other words … when hell freezes over)

  10. John Altevogt says:

    Three cheers for Tony for actually addressing the issue. Sticking your head in the sand and pretending it’s nt a problem will accomplish nothing and the attitudes of the police that these are just harmless “kids” only points to the fact that they’re part of the problem.

    As for buses going to the Legends, yes, there are, but the KCK PD has not been quite as neutered as the KCMO PD. Screw up at the Legends and there will be consequences, a word clearly not in the KCMO PD’s vocabularly.

    These “kids” don’t have to be carrying Glocks, or fighting to destroy the Plaza. Traveling in larger groups that are just unruly. loud and boistrous will be sufficient to drive the high end shopper to 135th St in JOCO. Once paying customers leave and shrinkage rises as the gangs overwhelm store clerks, there will soon be empty store fronts, following that the surrounding residential areas will begin to transistion.

    If the KCMO establishment and PD are not prepared to exercise the will to control this behavior rather than pander to it and pretend it doesn’t exist you can kiss not only the Plaza, but the surrounding residential areas, goodbye in a very short time. If the Plaza is to be saved over reaction and rigid behavioral standards need to be the rule.

    • admin says:

      Not saying it’s a non-issue, John…

      Because clearly it is.

      However there’s a difference between “addressing” something and wildly, inaccurately exaggerating it. Regardless of whether it appeals to many people’s preconceived notions.

      • John Altevogt says:

        Understand the concern, also understand I blame this on cultural upbringings caused by an entitlement culture that pays people who are unfit to care for themselves to spew out feral, unsocialized “kids”, race notwithstanding.

        The kid doesn’t have to get in a fight, or carry a weapon to be threatening, or a hassle to a high end customer. If there’s a group of kids, of any race, behaving loudly and boisterously they will be intimidating, or annoying to people who are being asked to pay top dollar for an evening out on the town. A “child” seen taunting a cop is even more threatening, even if he does nothing else because it raises the question that if he’s not afraid of an armed officer how would he react if I tried to correct his behavior, or was accosted by him.

        The results are undeniable. Indian Springs, Bannister, etc, it’s just easier to avoid the problem and go elsewhere. So it has to be not just glossed over it has to be cleaned squeaky clean if The Plaza is going to compete with other high end shopping/dining districts.

        • bigtimeharley says:

          JOHN….chuckles the clown…when was the last
          time you were on the plaza on a Friday or Saturday
          chuckles the clown doesn’t ever go down there…he’s
          on tkc posting vile disgusting hate filled comments
          on Friday and Saturday nights (I can provide some)..
          and this altevogt dude….you again never fail
          to show your lack of knowledge.

    • bigtimeharley says:

      are there any empty storefronts on the plaza…I didn’t noticeany…
      are there any stores going bankrupt? I haven’t seen or read about
      I’ve got to believe that with those high squre foot prices rfor plaza
      space…smart business people wouldn’t be going there if there were all these
      When tivols (hint hint) moves out of there…then theres problems.
      But I saw no empty spaces….
      crowds from the plaza are flooding sorella…and jimmy reopens
      jj’s to huge crowds….
      I’m sure chuckles the sad clown is smarter than the guys who
      run chesscake factory….and the rest of the plaza WHENIT COMES
      Just an intuition…plaza has probably one of the highest rental rates
      in the city…why are businesses filling up any empty spaces…
      because they know the plaza will always be the shining lite in this
      AN GLAZE…sorry dude…you keep saying it needs more nightlife…
      what for…so the nasty hookers can hang out with their gullible
      old men who support the 24 year olds.

        • bigtimeharley says:

          john…let me also school you thefool….sir…
          if you did any checking besides cutand paste and
          looked at the sales of companies locatedin particular
          areas you would have seen what a disaster
          the first quarter was because of the weather.
          the east coastgot hit the worst…but there was
          very little drop overall…what in profits was
          you’re nota businessman…youjust took that
          article and put itup.
          answer my question….are there any empty spaces
          on the plaza?
          according to the experts like myself and
          others this winter weather wrecked havoc on most
          businesses in the east coast.
          please aknowledge these facts….the small drop
          in profits waa miniscule…so lets get this
          straight….again…Harley is correct.
          but nice try!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. bagel guy says:

    what a great article!

  12. bagel guy says:

    hearne…you cut off the guy who speaks the facts?

  13. bagel guy says:

    where’s Harley? was on vacation….took biz trip….got news on
    jewel caper (will blow your mind)….but you kicked me off

  14. admin says:

    OK, Harley..bagel guy…whoever you are, I’ll bite.

    Using NO NAMES tell me what you’re hearing on the jeweler?

    With your so-called connections, it’s kinda hard to imagine you wouldn’t know who it is at the very least

  15. CG says:

    The Plaza and midtown are already a shadow of themselves as far as being busy. I was on the Plaza with a date on Tues. night. A few restaurants had action, mostly dead. I ate at Tom Fooleries it was busy on the patio but not inside, still decent for a Tuesday. I went to the new bar at the hotel Sorrell(sp?) very nice, talk of the Plaza, it was empty but I know weekends are busy. Looked over my old haunts from the 7th floor view, very nice, warm night, empty at 9 PM.

    I got calls from people I know who were on the Plaza Saturday night. They were scared and some won’t go back soon. Remember they aren’t used to this scene. There is a wide divide today between blacks and whites, bigger than ever maybe. Ask Stern and the media who rallied to hang him, burn him, kill him if they could. Was it an over the top bullet from the left to slow down the right’s anger at black behavior in sports and on the streets? Maybe.

    It is true and can’t be denied Hearne, black hip hop/rap crowds destroy any shopping district in America, a fact. Sad but true.

  16. Oinky says:

    Altevogt never fails to disappoint.

    Always a goddamn pig.

  17. paulwilsonkc says:

    This settles it. I’m spending all Saturday evening on the Plaza with a camera and a hot white chick; well see what happens!

    • bigtimeharley says:

      WILSON…all Saturday evening on the plaza…..?????????????
      Don’t forget your Flomax!!!!!!!!!!!

    • the dude says:

      Just don’t park your bike you know where!!

      • paulwilsonkc says:

        Dude, I’m Paul D Wilson, I park anywhere I see fit!

        • bigtimeharley says:

          park anywhere you wantdude…but you’ll get
          you’re probably the guy who takes the handicapped
          spots then walks out of the car…..
          but please…don’t forget the Flomax….just
          kidding….of course.

    • balbonis moleskine says:

      Make sure you let your stepdaughter know in advance you are taking her to PF Changs

      • paulwilsonkc says:

        Is this an inside joke, Balbo, she IS going to be there, but for Prom, not with me.

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