City leaders question pepper-spraying incident on Plaza

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - An incident on the Plaza, where police used pepper spray to break up a fight among teens, has some city leaders asking questions about what happened.

Both Mayor Sly James and Councilman Jermaine Reed received reports from Kansas City Police Sunday morning following the incident caught on camera exclusively by 41 Action News.

Dozens of young people gathered Saturday evening near the J.C. Nichols fountain. During that time, police received several reports of fights breaking out.

As police arrived on the scene, 41 Action News cameras took video of them using pepper spray to quell the violence.

RELATED STORY - KCPD responds to incident on Plaza, uses pepper spray on crowd

A spokesperson for the Kansas City Police Department told 41 Action News the department did not make any arrests.

Owners and managers of Plaza businesses have regularly voiced concerns over the large groups of teens gathered there on Friday and Saturday nights.

Cab driver Gammachu Mixichu told 41 Action News he regularly sees large groups of teens meeting in the area when he drives by.

"They walk around most of the time on Friday and Saturdays. It is packed down here most of the time," said Mixichu.

The ongoing issues with teens and violence near the Plaza concern Councilman Jermaine Reed.

"We've got to make sure our law-enforcement agencies are treating our kids respectfully. Also, our kids have to in turn make sure they are doing things where they are being respectful of wherever they are in this entire city," Reed said.

Off-camera Saturday night, some of the youths told a 41 Action News reporter they felt targeted because the group was comprised mostly of African-American teens.

Councilman Reed said he has also heard some of those concerns. He said he has questions about the officers' use of pepper spray. He told 41 Action News he would have those same concerns if the teens pepper sprayed were Caucasian or Latino.

"I wasn't there last night. I can't speak on behalf of the police department. But just as a citizen, as an African-American male; as a city official, it concerns me a great deal that that's the way we had to get our young people under control," Reed said.

Reed also said the city continues to examine what to do about a curfew for young people citywide.

A spokesperson for Mayor Sly James said the mayor was in contact with police on Sunday. However, she declined to provide further comment at this time.

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