KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After a homicide in April claimed the life of 34-year-old Gary Taylor – and several other shootings occurring in the historic 18th and Vine District – community members met with the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department to talk problems and solutions.
Six tables at the Gregg Klice Community Center were filled from 6 to 8 p.m.Tuesday with people discussing how they felt about the district, in which some responded with words like fear, exhausted, anxiety and unsafe.
When asked how to fix some of the crime happening in the area, respondents said by creating better communication with one another, creating a community liaison and being on the same page.
It's this conversation giving hope to people like Bushwa Farmer, who was selling T-shirts on the corner of 18th and Vine.
"As you see now, the police and the community has come together, and we’re building a bridge with one another as well as building a bridge with the police," Farmer said.
Farmer has known the 18th and Vine District since he was a child, and he wants it to return to that atmosphere.
"My mother used to walk us down here and Vine used to be a happening spot," he said.
At the American Jazz Museum, they too don't want the violence to be part of what the district is known for.
"Sometimes when we these violent moments that peak up, we think this is not Black excellence," Rashida Phillips, Executive Director of the Jazz Museum, said. "This is not the best of ourselves because we know that we have a history here of greatness."
Phillips said violence does not have a place in the community.
"It’s not the best of who we are," she said.
Despite the violence, according to Phillips, the 18th and Vine community relies on each other to get through these times and for the district to grow.
"We are absolutely not separate," Phillips said. "We are always talking to each other, we want to the best for the district."
That mentality is what many who live and work in the district hope will change the narrative – to where people don't need to fear coming to the neighborhood at night.
"What we need is for all of us to come together as a whole, come together as a unit and help one another," Farmer said.
The Center for Conflict Resolution helped moderate the discussions.