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Monday, January 16, 2006

Kansas City riots, April 1968

Mlk2005_noline_screenI was in Chicago, not Kansas City, in the days following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. All told, I think I'd rather have been here.
When I covered the Kansas City cops for this newspaper, the consensus among police veterans was that the level and extent of violence during the riots in this city were never reported.
Here's a chart that appeared in The Star on April 9, 1968 - early in five nights of rioting and unrest in the city.

Lead story that day:

  • "Violence erupted for the second straight night on Kansas City's East Side last night, turning a large part of the area into a battleground where snipers dueled with police and national guardsmen in the glow of high-reaching flames from fire-bombed buildings."

Six days later, after things settled down, police Chief Clarence M. Kelley said he wanted to restore police-community relations. In what strikes me as a quaint touch, members of the "Negro community" asked that cops walk their beats, not drive. They were turned down.

Star story April 9, 1968, page 1 (jpeg)
Star story April 9, 1968, page 2 (jpeg)

Here's the federal government's Website for Martin Luther King Day. It stresses making today "a day on, not a day off." There are links to federal service and volunteer opportunities.


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