KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After weeks of protests calling for criminal justice reform and racial justice, activists, Kansas City, Missouri, police and anti-violence groups united on Monday for a march called "Black Lives Matter, But To Who?"
"It’s is sad when a kid thinks at 25, he's lived a life," Pat Clarke, director of the Oak Park Neighborhood Association, said.
Clarke and other community activists hear almost every day a grim outlook backed by numbers.
As of Monday, more than a quarter of Kansas City's 82 homicide victims in 2020 were between 17 and 24 years old.
"These kids need something to do. Our kids have nowhere to go," Clarke said. "We've killed more during the pandemic, then we killed before."
Clarke pointed out the violence – just like COVID-19 – doesn't care about boundaries.
"So what they what they were doing on 12th street, 35th street 47th street, when they moved to Grandview, Lee's Summit, Blue Springs, they bring in that same issue out there," Clarke said.
Clarke organized the rally that roughly 200 people attended.
"A black man kills a black man everyday, all day in America," Clarke said.
For Micah Daniels with the Hope Center, that's disheartening to hear.
"It’s scary to think about that," Daniels said. "We're the, you know, dying the most and we want to be able to put a stop and end to it. We know how much we value black men and being a black man, that's just something that I want to be a part of to move — that there should be no more."
The group marched on Swope Parkway from Chestnut Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Park, where several leaders, including Brandon Ellington, Councilmember for Kansas City's Third District-At-Large, talked about possible solutions.
"And then we see people that look like us that sell dope on our blocks, that shoot on our blocks, that spin tires on our blocks that make it inaccessible for our kids to play on our blocks we silently co-sponsor that," Ellington told the crowd.
Commanders within KCPD said lawmakers need to do their part to curb the violence.
"We need guns out of the hands of people who are using them for wrong," KCPD Chief Rick Smith said.
He also said there need to be resources for people "who are in desperate situations and need to get out."
"We need to come together as a community," Smith said. "I've said it a long time that stronger communities will have less crime, and I believe that."
Ellington said he believes change begins with the individual.
"We're murdering ourselves," Ellington said. "We're watching ourselves be murdered and if we don't find our lives more valuable than anything else, nobody else will."