Government Overreach or Survival

Photo of Westport Violence Overreach
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Is it government overreach or survival? There is a debate going on in Kansas City, MO which has sparked questions about the ability of a commercial and entertainment district to protect itself from ongoing violence. The area in question known as Westport, which has traditionally been an entertainment destination for young people in Kansas City. Filled with bars and restaurants and recently has added residential housing to the equation. Over the last couple of years there has been an uptick in violence in the district with several robberies, shootings and homicides. The businesses in the district made a proposal to the city to allow them to privatize the sidewalks during the hours when most of the violence has occurred. The purpose of this proposal would allow the businesses to conduct screenings for weapons before entering the district using metal detectors and searches. This seems reasonable enough since I am searched when I enter several establishments I frequent.

In 2016, there were 16 gun offenses in the Westport Community Improvement District. During the first 10 months of 2017, there were 65 gun offenses, an astronomical jump that has affected businesses in the district. More people have become fearful of the area, even during the week when the streets are emptier. A proposal to privatize Westport sidewalks on weekends for weapons checks landed at the intersection of public safety and civil rights Wednesday, as Kansas City Council members heard pointed testimony on the measure. Businesses in the popular entertainment district have called for the measure after a frightening spike in late night gun violence. If approved, the city would privatize sidewalks in an area bounded by Pennsylvania Avenue from West 40th Street to Archibald Street, and Westport Road from Broadway to Mill Street. Under Missouri law, police can screen for concealed weapons on private but not public property. The metal detection checkpoints would be in place on Friday and Saturday nights from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.Kansas City Star

So my question is am I being naïve to this overreach of government or do businesses have the right to protect their interests in the face of thugs and hoodlums? There are some in the civil rights community who view this as an attempt to restrict the movements of blacks and will lead to racial profiling. I don’t see the connection with doing weapons checks to protect your customers and profiling. The person they are profiling is the person with an illegal firearm getting into the district and committing crimes. This is where these so-called civil rights leaders lose their credibility. Rather than allowing these businesses to make their venues safe for everyone, these leaders would prefer to do nothing and allow this popular district to turn into another ghetto. These businesses have spent years, some generations to build up their interests and I don’t think it is fair to lose those interests because some idiots need to prove their manhood by shooting or killing someone. And let’s be clear most victims and perpetrators are black. On the one hand, we are to ignore the fact blacks are committing these crimes for the most part and we are to pretend they cut equally across racial lines.

Councilwoman Alissia Canady, who supports the ordinance, presented police officials with data suggesting that African Americans are at elevated risk of being crime victims in Westport. Over the last three years, more than 40 percent of the 130 victims of violent crime in the heart of Westport were African Americans, according to police Capt. Doug Niemeier. “I thought those numbers were important to point out,” said Canady, chairwoman of the council’s neighborhoods and public safety committee. “We’re not 40 percent of the people in Westport.”

Civil rights advocates reaffirmed their opposition to the ordinance. Rev. Rodney Williams, representing the NAACP and the Swope Parkway United Christian Church, called it “a slippery slope leading to racial profiling.”Kansas City Star

One of the primary roles of leadership whether it be local, state or federal is to protect your citizenry. As we learned with 9/11 sometimes we have to change how we do things to protect ourselves. While some would call it overreach, others would call it sensible steps to ensure our protection. As a society we must protect the rights of property owners to conduct their business. It is this fundamental concept which allowed America to prosper and become a great nation. it is. If we no longer enforce our laws and protect property rights, then we are just another banana republic. Kansas City is in the midst of unparalleled violence and continuing to do the same things will only result in the same results. There is no right for people to generate violence towards their fellow citizens. As a society we may put into place measures to ensure the safety of all of our citizens. It’s simple if you want to carry an illegal firearm don’t go to a place where searching takes place. But that is a place I won’t be going anytime soon.