By DAVID MARTIN
David Cook fans who attended last night's American Idol show at the Sprint Center encountered a picket line. The ACLU's Racial Justice Program organized a protest against the dress code at the Power & Light District.
The ACLU and members of the City Council have complained that the Power & Light District's dress code -- which forbids white T-shirts and baggy clothing-- discriminates against African-Americans. Officials at the Cordish Co., the district's developer, have listened to the objections but held firm. "Nothing was resolved," ACLU attorney Joy Springfield said, "so that's why were here."
Most of the dozen protesters wore white T-shirts and held signs with messages such as "Race neutral" and "KC gave Cordish millions in tax breaks and all I got was this lousy T-shirt." Richard Mabion, a community activist who lives in Kansas City, Kansas, intermittently yelled, "Open it up," as he marched. Mabion wore a shirt he picked up a Quindaro event, not the plain, extra-long white tee popular with young people.
The protesters stayed on the Sprint Center side of Grand Boulevard, deigning not to test the policy. "No civil disobedience today," one of the marchers said.
The protest baffled a few concertgoers. The ones who were able to determine that a dress code (and not Simon Cowell) was the subject of protest then had to glean that the offending policy applied to the entertainment district, not the arena. A radio station's Hummer, parked on the street and equipped with powerful speakers, kept the mood light; Paul Carrack and Eddie Money are not exactly protest singers.
ACLU organizer Lisa Watson has talked with Cordish officials and hopes the conversation continues. The ACLU, Watson said, has volunteered to host to a town-hall meeting to discuss the policy. "We want them to come to the table," she said of Cordish.
Watson suggested that the dress code took away from the lively atmosphere the city was trying to create when it built a new arena and subsidized the Power & Light District. "We can't have this small-time attitude and say we're trying to get to the next level," she said.