Thursday, February 4, 2016

KCPT, in partnership with English Landing Films, on Friday premiered a new documentary, Our Divided City. The documentary looks at the social conditions that foster violent crime in Kansas City’s segregated black community east of Troost and asks whether enough is being done to make its neighborhoods safe.

I settled in to watch the film on Saturday morning, as I had recorded it the night before. I didn’t expect the flood of emotions as I witnessed the crime, segregation and downright unfairness our neighbors just to the north from our coverage area are experiencing.

A spotlight is shone on a new alliance that includes law enforcement agencies, City Hall, and academics called the KC No Violence Alliance or KC NoVA. It introduces a unique style of policing that attempts to work with the community to get ahead of the homicides.

Viewers will go inside KC NoVA as it attempts to put an end to tit-for-tat killings between gang members and it steps into the lives of ordinary families besieged by the violence. There is evidence that community leaders and certain brave citizens are already fighting back, but that for some patience is wearing thin with the city’s authorities.

During the film, I watched as familiar faces were lending a hand through clean-up efforts. I watched as our fearless leader, Mayor Sly James, became irritated when asked what he plans to do about it. He stated it’s not a political issue, and if he had the answers it would have already been fixed. This, according to James, is a community issue.

A community issue it is. Nothing will be done so long as we allow the violence to continue. Violent crimes, especially those on children, continue to rise in Kansas City. It was incredibly sobering to see, as the credits rolled, the list of names of those taken by violence in Kansas City in 2015. There were too many names. Too many children. Too many of our neighbors and friends.

The documentary will air again on Sunday, February 7, at 2:00 p.m. on KCPT.

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