Protesters march to get drug paraphernalia out of community stores

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some parents in the urban core are upset about drug paraphernalia sales at convenience stores near schools in their neighborhoods.

Church leaders and others in the community marched in protest near 43rd and Cleveland streets.

A group of people said they're circulating a referendum petition targeting gas stations and liquor stores that they claim are catering to the illegal drug culture.

Some on the east side said the problem stems from not having many grocery stores nearby.

As a result, convenience stores often stock soft drinks, bread and other basic foods.

But when parents bring children into the stores, they also are exposed to glass pipes, scales, and other paraphernalia associated with illegal drug use.

"Whenever you come out there’s people asking for money," said Katherine Parker, a mother of four children who lives nearby. "They are setting there doing drugs in front of my kids and stuff. My kids are asking me questions. I don’t know what to tell them. I tell them they are doing bad things. Just keep moving go back to the car."

Protesters said they want a city ordinance to ban sales of so-called smoking accessories and paraphernalia within five blocks of any school or day care center.

One store is within walking distance of the Genesis School, and the group claims other stores sell similar products near places like the Boys and Girls Club.

Organizers said they are setting up meetings with their city council representatives to see if an ordinance can address their concerns.