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Teens Weigh In On Plaza Ruckus

Marcus Garlington and Adriona Thurman were both on the Plaza last Saturday night. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.


Kansas City, Mo. – "There's nothing for us to do!" That's the age-old cry that parents have heard from teenagers for generations. But on the County Club Plaza last weekend, boredom apparently turned into mayhem.

An estimated crowd of 500 to 1000 youth, mostly African American, gathered at various Plaza locations. Fights broke out, and police reported assaults, vandalism and theft. Paying customers fled Plaza restaurants to avoid the trouble.

But why did all those teenagers go out there that weekend? And how many were actually causing trouble?

KCUR's Susan B. Wilson asked Adriona Thurman, a sophomore at Southwest Early College Prep, and Marcus Garlington, a freshman at Lincoln Academy for their take on what happened that night.

In other responses to the incident, Mayor Mark Funkhouser has visited neighborhood youth programs. Police have responded with extra enforcement, and plan to enforce under-17 curfew laws. They're also holding "summits" involving youth and civic leaders, the NAACP and the Plaza Merchant Association.

But there's some people who've been thinking about this long before problems erupted on the Plaza. KCUR's Susan B. Wilson also caught up with Thalia Cherry, Youth Advocate Manager for the city of Kansas City, Missouri.

This story was produced for KC Currents. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KC Currents Podcast.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Susan admits that her “first love” was radio, being an avid listener since childhood. However, she spent much of her career in mental health, healthcare administration, and sports psychology (Susan holds a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Bloch School of Business at UMKC.) In the meantime, Wilson satisfied her journalistic cravings by doing public speaking, providing “expert” interviews for local television, and being a guest commentator/contributor to KPRS’s morning drive time show and the teen talk show “Generation Rap.”
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