Why Just Waldo?

I have a daughter who lives in the Waldo area and we have been very disturbed about the rapes that have recently occurred in this neighborhood. To the credit of many Waldo residents and the police department, many community meetings are being held, posters of the alleged rapist are plastered all over the neighborhood, newspapers are routinely running front page articles and TV stations are leading their newscast with nightly stories about this situation. While all this attention is comforting to me as a dad, I wonder how a dad who has a child living in other parts of our community feels when he sees all this effort being paid to this somewhat rare but violent crime that has taking place in the Waldo area.

Rapes, shootings, and other violent crimes are regular occurrences in some neighborhoods in our community. Where are the front page stories and outrage for these crimes? Why are the community and police reactions to these rapes and shootings any less newsworthy in the urban core than they are in the Waldo Community? Alvin Brooks and other community leaders periodically organized vigils or prayer services to honor these victims and attempt to ask the community for help in finding those who are responsible, but where is everyone else?

The constant attention and community support that is taking place in the Waldo neighborhood is a model that should be used in other parts of the city when a violent action takes place. It is not enough to simply report the tragedy that someone was raped or killed. The real story is how the community is responding to this terrible crime and keeping community attention focused on preventing further attacks and bringing the people responsible for the crime to justice. The attention and support being given to the Waldo neighborhoods should be replicated routinely in other parts of our city.


3:37 and Steve both have it right. However one element that is missing is the absolute refusal to hold the people who are paid $160,000,000 every year to prevent crime which is the KCMOPD. The idea that African Americans are to blame for crime and the police department is not is duplicitous at best. By any metric, the KCMOPD has utterly failed to do its job: Crime is down nationally, however, crime is up in KC; KC is the 2nd most violent city in America; Kansas Citians rank as 13th on the "miserable index." If any business owner ran a business with these results they would have been fired long, long ago, unless of course they worked on Wall Street, in which case they would be given a huge bailout because we "can't afford to lose our best people."The bottom line is this, there are police departments that are winning the battle against crime and especially murder: High Point North Carolina reduced its murder rate 77%, Cincinnati reduced its murder rate 42 percent and Boston reduced its murder rate among men 24 and younger by almost 70 percent. If we in KC reduced our murder rate by 50% we would go from, statistically speaking, the 2nd most violent city in American to one of the "safest." The way forward on this issue is for leaders in this city to be honest about the police department's utter failure to do its job.

Steve you've made some solid points (but have missed a few) that are difficult to accept for me as a community member. More attention is paid in Waldo because these crimes are not the norm--and in different parts of the city, tragically, they have become a "normal" part of life. In the other parts of the city, community members feel powerless to affect any kind of change in their neighborhoods, hence the lack of public outrage. In Waldo, people do feel like they have that power, and that they don't deserve to live with such heinous violence, and they are determined to change that--because its in their own backyards. The question is: How do we make people care about crime and violence when its NOT in their own back yards? And, How do we empower people living with violence every day that this type of violence should never be considered "normal"??? From someone who doesn’t live in Waldo but does live in the inner city it looks to me like it is a very white and black issue or a poor and middle class issue. I challenge small business owners to do what Kennedy’s is doing about the Waldo Rapist. Why doesn’t the KCP&L; and Martini Corner get behind crime in the inner city when it borders the inner city or is, in fact, in the inner city? We as a city, as law enforcement, as small businesses, show we care about what happens to our white middle class citizens by the outrage, the posters, the constant stream of information about these crimes and by calling 911 every time a black person is spotted in Waldo (one day the police had 37 wrong calls…which is ridiculous!). And we show we don't care about the kids that getting slaughtered almost daily in the inner city that is less than a 10 minute drive from the Waldo area--because we don't DO anything. Why is this? Do we have a "blame the victim" mentality? Black kids are killing other black kids, so who cares? Or is it out of sight, out of mine--we don't know these kids getting killed, don't know their friends, their families, it doesn't affect "us"--so we care about it from a distance, but aren't willing to step out and take actions. We as a society are building jails and graveyards for these kids and instead of beautiful schools, healthcare for each of them, secure housing, and safety is a luxury they apparently do not deserve because they are poor and black. They can buy liquor or a concealed weapon on nearly every other street corner but can’t buy a fresh piece of fruit anywhere in the 3rd district but a gun is something they can get with only one phone call… why is that? We are NOT doing enough community organizing or outreach for these children. That message is loud and clear to these high risk youth and young adult African American kids. They simply have no one to believe in them. This Waldo rapist saftey outrage is a prime example classism and racism in this city. We all like to believe that segregation is dead---but obviously, in this great city of ours, it is not. Kansas City-- we are better than this! Inner City families and Children deserve just as much attention as the Waldo residents! EVERY person deserves the right to safety, dignity, healthcare, housing, clothing, food and most of all love. I want all of KC to be safe and everyone to be treated equally regardless of their income, color of their skin or if they live in Waldo or in the Troost Village. Equality is something the residents of Kansas City should demand and those that our empowered (like the ones that are reading this blog) should lead that fight!

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About Me

Steve Roling

Steve Roling

Steve Roling is the President/CEO of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. Each week he blogs about issues that inspire him as we work toward eliminating barriers to quality health.