Business owners renew call for street privatization amid violence in Westport

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tom Platt was at his Westport home Sunday night, as first responders rushed to a shooting at Californos.

"I heard the sirens and ambulances going past, and I said 'Oh boy, we have another incident here in Westport,'" Platt said of the experience.

His family has been in the area since the late 1940's. Now, as a businessman and president of the Heart of Westport Neighborhood Association, Platt says there has been a change in his beloved community.

"At nighttime, it seems like a free for all with coming to Westport," he said.

That's why Platt is endorsing a new plan to privatize streets in the entertainment district on Friday and Saturday nights from 11 p.m. to 4 am. The Westport Regional Business League drafted the proposal, which would allow security to screen people for weapons before they're allowed to enter.

Anti-violence group Adhoc Group Against Crime has already endorsed the idea.

"We had hoped it would not have to come to such a move, but we understand the safety of the public comes first," Adhoc Community Resource Advocate Branden Mims said.

The proposal was supposed to go before the city's planning commission last week, but the Westport Regional Business League pulled the item at the last minute. Executive Director Franklin Kimbrough told us several city council members asked him to do so because there were many other items on the agenda. He said the organization will again ask for the plan to be debated early this fall.

Kimbrough also released this statement in response to Sunday night's shooting:

"All of Westport is saddened by the unnecessary gun violence and resulting loss of life that occurred on Sunday evening. While our thoughts and prayers are with the innocent bystanders that were shot and their families, we renew our plea to City Council to help us stop this detestable and unchecked gun violence that continues to threaten young lives as well as the livelihoods of the many local independent small businesses that are suffering because of it."

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