Thursday was day two of community activist Rachel Riley's three-day camp out in front of City Hall. About a dozen people held signs, grilled food and talked about the city's violent, crime-infested east side.
Matthew Cunningham and Vincent Wainright, the guys with the picket signs, called for a community center on East 24th Street.
Wainright, in the warm up jacket and backwards hat, said a community center would give kids positive options.
Cunningham, the guy in the Michael Jordan Wizards jersey, said the
neighborhood is so bad that Pizza Hut won't deliver there past 6:30
p.m. or dark, whichever comes first.
Riley, the camp out's organizer, hugged a SpongeBob SquarePants pillow
while she talked about children dying on the city's streets. She knows:
In 2004, her teenage son, Larry, was shot and killed in a dispute
between neighborhood rivals. She asked why economic stimulus money
wasn't being used to help clean up inner city neighborhoods like hers.
Riley told me this about a half an hour after Kansas City Mayor Mark
Funkhouser delivered his "State of the City" address -- and about an
hour before Kansas City's 49th homicide was recorded.
In his speech, Funkhouser called for more money for cops and improving
the quality of living in the city. The words rang hollow with Riley,
Wainright and Cunningham. But they didn't lay the blame at just
Funkhouser's feet. They said the blame is shared by all of the city's
leaders. But they didn't need an hour-long speech from Funkhouser to know the real state of the city.
"The city is in a mess," Riley said. "Our babies are dying."