After Swope Park shooting, community activists call for support from city

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Police are still searching for the people responsible for injuring six others Sunday during a shootout at Swope Park.

“This one here could have been prevented, period, and it wasn’t,” Bishop Tony Caldwell, with the Justice Center, said.

Caldwell said violence like this happens when people don’t have a safe place to gather, like an organized event.

He said they had a summit — with performers, speeches and games — planned for this weekend at the center, but couldn’t get permission from the city to have it because of “late notice.”

“I don’t care if you get a notice four hours before somebody’s getting ready to lose their life. What’s more important? Going to shake hands and kiss babies or saving a life?” Caldwell said. “That’s what we’ve got to get back to.”

It goes deeper than putting on events to keep people out of trouble and slow the violence in our city, according to Desmond Logan, an activist with the Justice Center.

“If we don’t do something and become role models and get the community to stand up and grab these little ones, we’re going to have ever worse problems because the only people they got to look up to is the guys doing the shooting, the guys doing all these illegal sideshows,” Logan said.

A local church and community organization answered that call to mentor kids this Labor Day, less than 24 hours after the shooting.

They set up right across from where the shooting reportedly happened.

The adults running the event helped kids have a good time with eggshells instead of the violence that leads to gun shells.

“No cheating, no cheating!” onlookers at the Egg race yelled.

Alvin Spotwood, a pastor at Temple of the Emanuel Family Worship Center, said we have to be the change in our own communities.

“We want to be the ones that initiate the change. We want to provoke and move in God that we will be able to help the kids in this community,” Spotwood said.

“Me being a shooting victim before in my life, I just want to impact the kids so they don’t go down the wrong roads like I did,” he said.

Logan wants more of these activities in the inner city for not only kids, but also adults. He said for that to happen they need support from the city.

“And nothing. People still dying,” Logan said, “and it’s just simple, just give us somewhere to do it so we can protect the people.”

Activists said part of the responsibility lies with police because they knew about the event Sunday night at the park.

Police said they are aware of many gatherings across KC. They said most events go off without a hitch and are not an issue that require police presence, but when there is a crime or people call for help they are ready to respond.

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