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Memorial To Kansas City Lynching Victim Removed From Case Park

Harrington-1.jpg
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
Shaw Ed, a maintenance supervisor with the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department, carries away the plaque marking the 1882 lynching of Levi Harrington from Case Park on Friday morning.

The recently defaced marker will be stored at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center and a new one will eventually replace it in the park.

The plaque marking the 1882 lynching of Levi Harrington was removed Friday morning from Case Park in the Quality Hill neighborhood east of downtown, with little fanfare after vandals defaced it and threw it over a nearby cliff six weeks ago.

The plaque had been reinstalled after the vandalism incident in June, but officials with Kansas City Parks and Recreation in coordination with the Community Remembrance Project and the Equal Justice Initiative decided there was too much damage to keep the original marker in place. It will now be stored at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center.

Park officials found out about the vandalism through a post on Reddit.

“It was like a hate crime. It felt like a retaliation. It felt like we’re seeing this reckoning that’s taking place in terms of America’s racial history,” said Glenn North, co-founder of Community Remembrance Project of Missouri and co-liaison to the Equal Justice Initiative.

Taking time to saw off and toss the marker of this lynching felt, North said, like “tearing the scab off a wound.”

However, the marker will not be forgotten or hidden away, he told reporters Friday.

Harrington-2.jpg
Carlos Moreno
Glenn North, co-founder of Community Remembrance Project of Missouri and co-liaison to Equal Justice Initiative stands next to the empty space where the Levi Harrington plaque stood in Case Park. He pointed out that people stood on this space in 1882 to watch the lynching from a beam on the Bluff Street Bridge behind him.

They want to preserve the marker and tell the story of what happened to it. The Community Remembrance Project eventually wants to reinstall a new marker in Case Park and hold a re-dedication and invite the community out for its re-installation.

“We want to connect with the neighbors in this area so that they understand the importance of the marker being here,” said Chris Goode, a board member of Kansas City Parks and Recreation.

“It saddens me to think we have such a close-knit community here in Kansas City and something so putrid, so vile could happen right here in our city limits and there not be more outrage about it,” Goode said.

“But the act should not be overlooked. It should be highlighted,” he added.

Harrington-3.jpg
Carlos Moreno
Chris Goode, a Kansas City Parks and Recreation board member discusses the vandalism and future plans for the Levi Harrington plaque shortly before it was removed from Case Park on Friday morning.

Shortly after Goode and North spoke, Shaw Ed, a maintenance supervisor with Kansas City Parks and Recreation, loosened a few remaining screws on the plaque’s base and lifted the approximately 20-pound marker and carried it into the bed of a waiting truck.

“This is going to give us an opportunity to really help the community understand the importance of this space,” North explained. “It’s going to help us to double our efforts to make sure that crimes like this when they happen are going to be taken seriously.”

North said police have not notified them if there are any suspects in the vandalism. But he said the parks department has assured there will be extra measures taken to protect the new marker after it’s installed and that there will be surveillance.

“We need to protect this space,” North said. “This is sacred space. And that we want the community to take ownership of this space so these heinous acts don’t continue to happen.”

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