Reverend calls KC teen curfew ‘racist’

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A local reverend calling a year-round curfew for Kansas City teens racist. But it's a message not all support.

Signs around Kansas City's entertainment districts remind visitors it falls under the curfew ordinance which means starting at the end of May, kids 17 and under can't be there after 9 p.m.

Rev. Ralph Wright says the ordinance is racist and is not a fix.

"We have to begin to come up with real solutions to the problems," said Wright.

The problem stems from an August 2011 Country Club Plaza shooting involving three African-American teens and the Mayor -- and the hundreds of young kids who run the entertainment district streets on weekends.

"If it was little white kids that was doing the same things we would be coming up with true solutions to the problem. We wouldn't just be pushing them to the side and not coming up with true solutions," White said.

"I was there when three kids were shot. That doesn't bode well. And the three kids who were shot were all black, so was the shooter racist?" Mayor Sly James asked during an interview with Fox 4 regarding Rev. Wright's comments.

Wright and Chaplain Timothy Lister, both present at Monday's meeting, say pushing the youth out but not putting money back into the community is only pushing the problem in another direction.

"Kids then have to go, or chose to go to places that put them in more danger or risk or where they end up in more trouble, them yes thats a problem," said Lister.

The Mayor says they are providing a solution, community centers and programs to give kids something to do. Kids like 15-year-old Brian Williams, who says without the community centers, his friends would most definitely be getting into trouble.

"Playing, selling drugs, shooting, all types of stuff," Williams said.

While the Mayor and Williams say the community centers are a good start --
"Curfew means less homicides, yeah its good," Williams said.

"The bottom line is that we do not need to cloud this problem with my calling it racist. That will not solve it. We need to use our heads. We need to bring the necessary people together. Recognize that we have an issue and find a way to work together, whether it black or white or purple and solve the problem. Period," Mayor James said.

Wright says he wants more.

"Those are not solutions to the problem, I want true solutions to the problem," said Wright.

The 9 p.m. curfew goes into affect on Memorial Day. Talks about extending the curfew to year round continue in three weeks.

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