KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Congressman and former Kansas City Mayor Emmanuel Cleaver weighed in on the contentious debate over extending the summer curfew on the Country Club Plaza, making it clear he opposes such a policy, and calling on parents to step up to keep their children safe.
"All we're gonna do is make a lot of black kids angry, who will take out their anger someplace else," Rep. Cleaver told 41 Action News in an interview Saturday.
"I think we've got to put in place a lot of options for young African Americans. And the other problem is parents. I don't think we let the parents off the hook," Cleaver continued.
The former two-term mayor's opposition to making the Plaza, and other entertainment districts' current summertime 9 p.m. weekend curfew year-round sets him squarely in the midst of an ongoing city council debate about how to improve safety in the city's entertainment districts.
On April 24,a council committee agreed to wait three weeks before addressing the issue further after councilman Jermaine Reed pointed out that all 34 tickets issued in 2012 went to African-American youth. Shortly thereafter, Mayor Sly James arrived to make an impromptu speech, and called on more stakeholders to be present at the next discussion.
In Saturday's interview, Rep. Cleaver said parents need to be held accountable for their children's actions, but that the city should do more to provide alternative activities for teenagers on weekends.
"Mothers and fathers can solve the plaza problem," Cleaver said. "But, additionally, we've got to have some outlets for them."