A Black Kansas City organizer on the Ralph Yarl shooting: 'This hits home'
Justice Gatson, founder and director of Reale Justice Network, said it’s been an emotional several days for Kansas City Black communities. Gatson was one of hundreds of protesters who have been calling on the Kansas City Police Department to arrest Ralph Yarl's shooter — and now she's calling on the police chief to resign.
Justice Gatson said she felt physically ill when she heard the news last week about Ralph Yarl, the Black 16-year-old who was shot in Kansas City's Northland when he mistakenly showed up at the wrong house while trying to pick up his twin brothers.
“I just felt the worst pain in my stomach. I felt like I couldn't catch my breath,” Gatson said on KCUR's Up To Date on Tuesday. “We all had this feeling of doom and worry that we might lose this young man, and thinking about what that might mean for our community.”
Yarl was shot on top of his left eye and again in the upper right arm by Andrew Lester, a white 84-year-old man. Yarl was released from the hospital over the weekend and has been recovering at home.
“He should have been practicing his instruments today or engaged in something else, not having to recover from being shot just for ringing the wrong doorbell,” Gatson said.
Lester was finally arrested on Tuesday afternoon, but left jail on bond.
Gaston is calling for Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves to resign for handling the Yarl case "horribly."
"She has a disconnect with the community overall,” Gaston said. “There are lots of things that she needs to work on. I daresay she needs to go.”
Graves just took the position of KCPD chief in December. A 25-year veteran of the department, Graves is the first woman to hold the position in a permanent role, but the hiring process was highly criticized for lacking transparency and community input.
- Justice Gatson, founder and director of Reale Justice Network