A call in Kansas City to end bloodshed

Category: News


Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/08/17/4418003/a-call-in-kansas-city-to-end-bloodshed.html#storylink=cpy
People are being killed with such regularity in Kansas City that even the organizers of a rally against violent crime in the city’s urban core had a hard time this weekend keeping up with the statistics.

Several hundred people, many from law enforcement agencies, faith communities and other service organizations, turned out Saturday for the rally at Prospect Avenue and Linwood Boulevard. They came to acknowledge the city’s homicide victims of the past 10 years.

But the number of victims they had calculated — 1,146 — already was out of date by that morning. Another person had been shot to death the night before in a beauty salon at 39th Street and Baltimore Avenue. Police are still investigating.

Many of the speakers at the rally decried the broken homes, meager educational opportunities and the lack of jobs and economic development in poor neighborhoods that foster crime.

“When you put this together, it’s a cycle of violence and annihilation that has to be broken,” said the Rev. Vernon P. Howard Jr. of Second Baptist Church.

Mayor Sly James had tough words for violent criminals, people he called “thugs” and “idiots”: “We will lock your butt up,” he promised. “We cannot tolerate you on the streets of this city terrorizing people.”

James is on the governing board of the Kansas City No Violence Alliance, KC NoVa, a coalition that includes the Kansas City Police Department and other key law enforcement agencies. It has been implementing a new strategy this year to reduce violent crime: targeting key criminals for arrest and prosecution while offering those who associate with them substance-abuse treatment, job training and other social services to help them escape the criminal life.

“We will give you every bit of help we can,” James said. “This is your chance. … Over here is help, over there is hell. Take your pick.”

“I think they’re going to make a difference,” said Kris Wade, who stood in the bright sunlight listening to the speeches. Wade is executive director of The Justice Project, an organization that advocates for homeless women, many of whom become crime victims.

“The streets have been so terrible,” Wade said. “I think it’s important for the neighborhood to come out and say, ‘We won’t stand for this anymore.’”

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