New anti-violence group wants to use abandoned Kansas City school to combat crime

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Crime doesn’t stop, even during a pandemic. In response to the rise in crime in Kansas City’s inner city, a residents have formed a new anti-violence group.

Community Betterment Alliance held a prayer walk on May 23. Leaders are hoping to make a statement from the corner of E. 35th Street and Wayne Avenue.

“Prior to COVID-19, we had a lot of devastation, trauma, murders, homicides, drug activity in the community. Now, we’re dealing with COVID-19 as well,” Organizer and creator of CBA, Wisdom Williams, said.

Kansas City has recorded 65 homicides as of May 23, which is up considerably from 2019.

“It’s disappointing,” Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith said. “I don’t think anyone who lives or works in Kansas City wants to see this amount of violence.”

CBA is made up of church members and volunteers who said they care about the community. Their goals are set on taking over the Chester A. Franklin Elementary School, located on 35th and Highland. The school, owned by Kansas City Public Schools, has been vacant for years.

“The intent and purpose of opening up this building, as a place for the youth to come and get away from all the chaos, confusion and trauma, and negativity they deal with on a regular basis,” Williams said. “It is definitely a need. It’s actually beyond a need, more of a necessity.”

Williams is hoping the school can be used for tutoring, coaching, counseling, and mentoring.

The group is currently waiting for a response after reaching out to the school board.

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