Kansas City activists call for ceasefire in violent crime: ‘We must start somewhere.’

·3 min read

Kansas City activist groups and faith leaders are calling for a 21-day ceasefire following a particularly violent day in Kansas City, where three people — including a 15-year-old — were fatally shot.

At a press conference Saturday morning, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City Rev. Vernon Howard said they are offering conflict resolution help to make it happen.

Other groups involved in the call include the Concerned Clergy Coalition, the Urban Summit, the Urban Council, Sankofa for KC, the Heart of the Father Initiative, Ad Hoc Group Against Crime, Healing Pathway Victim Services and the Center for Conflict Resolution.

They want the community to resolve conflicts without violence for the next 21 days — starting at 12:01 a.m. Sunday through midnight on July 3.

Pastor Cassandra Wainright, president of the Concerned Clergy Coalition, said they know it will take more than 21 days to end the violence. But, she said, “we must start somewhere.”

Conflict resolution experts from the Center for Conflict Resolution will be available during the “21 Days of Peace,” along with licensed and ordained clergy from SCLC and the Concerned Clergy Coalition who can provide spiritual counsel. Additionally, a 24/7 prayer ministry from St. Mark Church, led by church matriarchs, will be organizing prayer shifts.

Ester Holzendorf, a mother, grandmother and great grandmother, asks the community to stop gun violence during a press conference held by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City on Saturday morning at the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and The Paseo on June 12, 2021.
Ester Holzendorf, a mother, grandmother and great grandmother, asks the community to stop gun violence during a press conference held by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City on Saturday morning at the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and The Paseo on June 12, 2021.

Bishop Frank Douglas, who founded Heart of the Father, said they are asking people to reach out to God and to the available resources for help in resolving conflicts rather than allowing conflicts to destroy families.

“We declare war against the violence that has come and tried to infiltrate generation after generation, leaving fathers and mothers gone and banished from their household,” Douglas said. “Now it has even crept into children and we are losing children.”

The city has seen 67 homicides so far in 2021. Last year, Kansas City suffered the highest number of homicides in the city’s history, recording 182.

“This is morally wrong,” Howard said. “This is unhealthy. This must end. This must stop. We must intervene in the suffering that is occurring from violence in our city.”

Janay Reliford-Davis, the founder and CEO of Camp CHOICE (Children Having Opportunities in Creating Environment) said the 21 days of peace is not just about individuals, but the root cause of the violence.

“It’s also about those that are responsible for creating the environment we find ourselves in,” Reliford-Davis said. “There are local, state and federal governments responsible for the violence that we see in our communities everyday that mostly Black and brown children are impacted by.”

On Tuesday alone, three people were killed in separate incidents across Kansas City in a one-hour span. One other person was shot and survived.

Davetta Whitmill, the mother of a homcide victim, said she is now raising her young grandson. The other day, she said, he asked her if she missed his mother. She said yes. She doesn’t want the community to lose anymore mothers.

“I know I can’t stop it,” she said. “But please, 21 days is not too much to ask for.”

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