Now, we have an area in KC called Westport, that routinely attracts police attention on Friday and Saturday nights. The police have planned out Westport; they know where the trouble areas are and work to remove potential problems. Even so, I have personally heard the action around murders that have taken place in Westport live on my scanner. But gathering crowds in the Plaza area are new--and disturbing to most Kansas Citians. The Plaza is one of our most well known area, a place that draws out of towners and tourists, a place where commerce is usually freely done, and thus a place of serious economic importance to our town.
Before we go on, let me give you some links: The Kansas City Star whose simple article has over 312 comments. KMBC, whose report features some "you are there" home video that looks plenty scary. Tony of TKC actually caught the first wave of this with reporting on last week's similar but smaller episode, and whose 2200 4/10 blog post has 125 comments. KSHB has some more reporting and video.
Because most of the teens in question are Black, and the Plaza is considered a White area, this event has become racially charged. There may be some racial issues involved: Kansas City was on the front line of the Civil War in many ways, and culturally, there are still some groups of Blacks and Whites who are still fighting both the Civil War, and the Civil Rights War of the 1950s and 1960s. Undercurrents of race run deep and strong in this town, often to our detriment as seen by the debris of the KCMO School District.
To deal with this though, we must keep race out of the discussion. This is a law and order issue. Underaged persons came together, whether spontaneously, or by organization by social media, to intentionally be disruptive and break the law. We cannot defang the police force by forcing racial worries on them. Then we will see non-action, "depolicing", the KCPD handcuffed by rules of engagement that keep them from dealing with the miscreants in the forceful manner that they must be dealt with, period. Youngsters under the midnight curfew age are held until parents get them, then there are fines, court dates, the whole shebang. For adults, as many charges as can be thought of, and they get to sit in jail until bailed out. Repeat until the word is out that acting the fool in the Plaza will get you thrown in jail. First, deal with the problem. Discussions about class warfare, race warfare, entitlement mentalities, crappy absent/abusive/addicted parents, and what to do with bored teenagers are all very interesting, and may eventually be productive of something, but they will not solve the problem of one of our primary and premiere areas of town being harassed and held hostage by a bunch of thugs. Only forceful uncompromising enforcement of law and order will.