ReStart backs out of warming site at KC Convention Center, citing security issues

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Less than 24 hours after announcing a partnership with the city to help the homeless, one major partner was already out.

Homeless are still being housed at the Kansas City Convention Center, but ReStart isn’t a part of it citing security issues among other problems.

The news followed an announcement the Black Panther Revolutionary Party would be providing security.

On Friday, Mayor Quinton Lucas and Kansas City City Manager Brian Platt joined a pair of community partners announcing the Convention Center’s Bartle Hall would be turned into a warming center operating nights for the rest of the winter.

One of those partners was ReStart, which has served the homeless for 40 years in Kansas City.

“We’re happy to be part of this solution and working on this project,” Stephanie Boyer, ReStart CEO, said Friday.

“We will have things to help people, security, folks that people can talk to,” Lucas said of the partnership.

Then the other partner, Creative Innovative Entrepreneurs, explained what that security would entail.

“We are an anti-cop organization, and that is our culture. The Black Panther Revolutionary Party will be providing security for the Scott Eicke Warming Center,” Gabby Weeks, volunteer coordinator, said Friday.

The very next day ReStart and Boyer issued a statement saying:

“Though a number of issues including questions about security and safety protocols were raised that have caused reStart to pause their involvement at the warming center while the City negotiates agreements with other parties, reStart still looks forward to continuing work with the city.”

A city spokesperson said Monday volunteers are needed for the center, but Weeks said so far things are going great. She’s not sure what role ReStart was to play anyway. Weeks said the two organizations who were to partner with the city to run the warming center never spoke before appearing at the same news conference about three hours before the shelter opened. 

She explained CIE’s culture is against police who have traumatized and brutalized the unhoused and Black communities. 

“We treat them like humans, and we learn de-escalation tips. reStart has not been here since the first day. I’ve had no volunteers from them. They have not been involved, so I’m not sure what security issues they are talking about,” Weeks said.

Those sentiments were backed up by at least one of the people the city and community partners vowed to serve Friday.

“The security that they have here, they walk all night, so it’s pretty safe. So far there hasn’t been nothing go crazy,” one man named Gary told FOX4.

The city said in a statement, “This warming center will be staffed by members of Kansas City government during all hours of operation. There are no plans for full-time armed security, though the city will engage the Kansas City Police Department should it ever be necessary.”

The city also said it currently has no contract with CIE. Weeks said a memorandum of understanding is being finalized. 

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