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Green Duck Owner Jimmy Townsend Murdered

Jimmy Townsend, longtime owner of Kansas City’s Green Duck Lounge at 26th Street and Prospect Avenue, was killed over the weekend.

Police say Townsend, 83, died of a gunshot wound. He was found outside of his home around 11 a.m. Saturday morning, a few blocks from the nightclub.

As news of Townsend’s death spread on social media, some drew parallels to Leon Jordan, the late civil rights activist and Green Duck Lounge owner who was assassinated in 1970.

“Yes, it’s deja vu in the sense, but it’s not necessarily that they are connected,” says Alvin Sykes, a human rights activist with extensive knowledge of the Jordan case.

Though the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office labeled the Green Duck Lounge a public nuisance – it was shut down for drug-related crime in 2011 but later reopened – in its heyday it launched black political club Freedom, Inc.

“It would be kind of hard to explain it (the significance) to people,” Sykes says. “You would have to experience it, as well as see the progress in what has happened on the political scene.”

Sykes says in the early days, all of Kansas City’s elected black leaders were touched by Jordan’s Green Duck Lounge.

Jordan’s long-ago murder wasn't closed until 2011. Earlier this year, the Kansas City Police Department named the crime lab at the new East Patrol building after Jordan. The campus is a block from the nightclub.

Sykes says he didn’t know Townsend well, but he decried the recent spat of violence that has left many in the city asking what can be done.

“There is no panacea for solving or preventing the murders that happen in Kansas City or around the country, for that matter,” Sykes says. “It’s an inward type of solution.”

Anyone with information about Townsend’s death should call the KCPD TIPS hotline, 816-474-8477.

Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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