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Goodbye 2020, hello 2021: Kansas City's year in review

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Posted at 6:41 PM, Dec 31, 2020
and last updated 2021-01-07 17:13:46-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The year 2020 is not one anyone will soon forget.

In Kansas City, we’ve felt the full effect of global and national events, but have found ways to come together locally.

41 Action News offers this year-in-review as a way to reflect on the events of 2020 and look forward to what we all hope is a better year in 2021.

Watch our special featuring the topics below in the media player above, on YouTube, or your favorite TV app.

The COVID-19 pandemic

Undoubtedly the biggest story of 2020, COVID-19 changed people’s lives in more ways than they thought possible.

Both Kansas and Missouri have seen hundreds of thousands of cases that have claimed numerous lives, including three members of the Kansas City, Missouri, Fire Department who were fighting the pandemic on the front lines.

With so much unknown about the virus, cities and counties across the Kansas City area issued stay-at-home orders and residents were asked to shelter at home with the exception of essential business.

Mask mandates, virtual learning and nursing home outbreaks soon followed.

The pandemic left no stone unturned in terms of its impact.

Economically, concerns over unemployment, evictions and the struggling hospitality and entertainment industries rose daily.

Federal and local governments implemented some measures in attempts to alleviate some of these problems, such as stimulus checks, the CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program and more.

Still, many local favorites in Kansas City were forced to close due to financial hardship.

Record-breaking homicide numbers

Meanwhile, Kansas City also experienced its most violent year in recorded history.

According to the 41 Action News Homicide Tracker, 174 people were killed in KCMO in 2020.

In the entire metro area, that number stands at 270.

Kansas City, Missouri, Chief of Police Rick Smith theorized the violence is connected to a national increase that he says came after protests over racial injustices this summer.

“I think we kind of created the perfect storm when we were isolated and then we had a very major event happen and then all of a sudden crime spiked across the country very quickly,” Smith said.

KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas announced a four-pronged approach to curb violence, but local activists say the community needs to make a stand, too.

“This is outrageous. The whole community should be outraged. Every time there's a homicide, everyone must come out their houses in these neighborhoods and make a stand and so people can see that we've had enough,” said Rosilyn Temple, executive director of KC Mothers in Charge.

Protests in Kansas City

The protests Smith referenced came in May after George Floyd, a black man, died while a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

His death sparked nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality, including in Kansas City.

The potential of getting tear gassed didn’t stop one mother from showing up for her son’s rights.

“I want my son to go out of this world surrounded by his family and old age. That's what I want. I don't want my son to have to fear driving or jogging or walking or getting Skittles or playing in the park or doing anything, sleeping in his house,” the woman, who only gave the name Missy, said. “I want him to be able to live the same lives and rights that white people live in this country. There is a very good possibility that he might not and that's why I'm out here.”

Several minority groups in Kansas City allied with the Black Lives Matter movement locally.

Some of the community efforts they mounted included calls for Smith’s resignation and occupying the lawn outside KCMO City Hall for 21 days.

At the same time, artists and volunteers donated their time to inspire unity in the city by painting six Black Lives Matter murals on Kansas City streets.

2020 elections

On top of a pandemic and national unrest, United States citizens were also faced with political discord.

Locally, important races swayed decidedly to the conservative side.

Missouri voters chose to keep Gov. Mike Parson in office, as well as passing Amendment 3, which repeals the Clean Missouri Act previously passed by popular vote in 2018.

In Kansas, Republican Dr. Roger Marshall won the race to represent the state in the U.S. Senate.

Nationally, however, the country voted blue. Joe Biden won the presidential election with 306 electoral votes to President Trump’s 232.

Negro League centennial

There was some cause for celebration in Kansas City in 2020 as the Negro League celebrated its centennial.

The Negro League Baseball Museum calls Kansas City home and hosted special exhibits to commemorate the league’s founding.

In December, Major League Baseball announced from now on, players and activities associated with the Negro League will be considered “Major League.”

The contributions and statistics of the league’s around 3,400 players will be recorded as part of MLB history.

Kansas City Chiefs become Super Bowl champions

February brought a big party to town as the Kansas City Chiefs became Super Bowl champions for the second time, this time with Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes and more at the helm.

The city celebrated with a huge Chiefs Kingdom Champions Parade that concluded at Union Station, where team members gave spirited speeches.

Forgive us if it’s bad luck to say so, but it appears we may be headed that direction again as the 15-1 Chiefs head into playoff season with a week 1 bye.

Finding the good

All throughout the pandemic, 41 Action News has brought you stories of the good in our community as we all look to get back on our feet.

In our #WeSeeYouKSHB effort, our team highlighted steps community members were taking to help each other and shine a light in 2020’s darkness.

In We’re Open KC and Rebound KC, we showed ways to support local business and connect Kansas Citians with the resources they need amid the pandemic.