You can hear them chanting from blocks away: "We want justice! Prosecutors out! Aren't you fed up? We want closure! Ain't gonna take it no more."
Rachel Riley, head of an East Side political action committee called the 23rd Street Nonviolent Marchers, is leading a protest until 4 p.m. today on the steps of the Jackson County Courthouse. She seeks closure in her son Larry's murder. No one has ever been charged in the shooting, which took place in front of Truman Medical Center on October 30, 2003. Riley's not angry with the Kansas City Police Department, she says, but she's fed up with the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office.
"The police, to this day and as of a couple days ago, still tell me, 'We believe we have a strong case,' but the prosecuting attorneys' office will not touch it," Riley says.
Riley's courthouse protests have become somewhat of a tradition. In May 2009, she held a three-day camp-out on the courthouse lawn.
been in frequent contact with Riley ever since 2007, and other
prosecutors were in contact with her in the years prior. "I've told
her that we did not have good, credible evidence to go forward with,"
Harrell says. "She didn't agree with that assessment. I understand that.
She's grieving and she's frustrated with the system. But we are not on
opposite sides of the fence with Ms. Riley. We are frustrated, too, when
we don't have the cooperation or the evidence we need to carry a case
like this forward."
Sadly, there are lots of cases like Larry Riley's. Most uncharged homicides remain that way for the same reasons: lack of witnesses, lack of evidence. Prosecutors can't make those ingredients magically appear for a grieving mother, but maybe they could be a bit more communicative.
Nothing in the file indicated why the case was closed, Riley says, and police told her that only the prosecutors could provide the explanation. Riley says she has asked, and is still waiting for an answer.
So the chant continues. "We want justice! Prosecutors out!"
A young man jogged by, and over his shoulder he hollered, "Get 'em all out."