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Lynching Victim Memorial Broken Off And Tossed Down Cliff In Kansas City, Missouri

061520_Lynching Plaque Collage_Taborda.jpg
Noah Taborda
KCUR 89.3
The post of the Levi Harrington Marker is seen in Case Park on Monday, June 15, 2020, in Kansas City, Missouri (left). The plaque, which was attached to the post, was dedicated to telling the history of lynching and Levi Harrington was ripped off and thrown down a nearby cliff (right).

Levi Harrington was a black man lynched in 1882. The city put up a memorial in Case Park in the Quality Hill neighborhood just two years ago.

A memorial to a lynching victim in Case Park in the Quality Hill neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri, was found broken in half Sunday, the marker's heavy plaque thrown down a nearby cliffside.

The plaque memorializes Levi Harrington, a black man who was lynched in Kansas City in 1882 for a crime he did not commit. It was found ripped from its base and thrown over the park's retaining wall.

According to the Community Remembrance Project of Missouri, a local coalition aimed at understanding systemic racism in Kansas City, the Marker was erected in 2018 at that site for its proximity to where Harrington was lynched. It is also likely where crowds would have stood, without intervention, during his murder.

The memorial was built to create a space for discourse about the city’s history of systemic racism.

“The news of the destruction of the marker was certainly disheartening. However, it only rededicates our efforts to continue in the pursuit of a more peaceful, tolerant, and racially just Kansas City,” the coalition said.

Kansas City Parks and Recreation said crews were at the park retrieving the marker from the cliffside Monday. They added increased security measures were being considered once it is reinstalled, citing repeated incidents of vandalism, like in early 2019 when the sign was defaced with graffiti.

Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City President Dr. Rev. Vernon Howard Jr was not surprised to hear the memorial was vandalized.

“The continued hate against black symbols is a resurging problem in this country and area,” Howard said, adding “it is incumbent upon all of us to stand and say ‘I am committed to being as passionate about fighting racism as I am about education and so forth.’”

Howard said he is encouraged to hear of expanded security measures and added that this sort of vandalism is the reason memorials and plaques like these are needed.

“We need to continue to lift up black symbols, voices and stories so that we understand our cities history of racial injustices,” Howard said. “Actions like these show how prevalent the tension still is.”

Noah Taborda is a Sports Broadcasting Journalism major who hopped on the short flight from Chicago to hone his trade at the University of Missouri. He hopes to cover a meaningful moment or two in his future career.
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