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Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

Amidst rising tensions between law enforcement and communities of color across the nation, Black Lives Matter supporters joined forces with the Wichita Police for a cookout last weekend. What was originally planned as a protest turned into a picnic, where over 1,000 community members came together for food and dance.

SURJ KC / Facebook

Alice Chamberlain admits it's often uncomfortable for white people to talk about prejudice, white privilege and institutional racism.

That's why she's excited. 

On Monday, more than 300 people — most of them white, like her  — showed up at St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church in Kansas City to have a conversation about just those topics. 

Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay has been invited to the White House to participate in an event focused on community policing.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Two men will face charges related to the shootout that led to the killing Tuesday of Kansas City, Kansas, Police Capt. Robert David Melton. 

Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman charged Jamaal Lewis, 20, with capital murder, aggravated assault and discharging a firearm.

DaQon Sipple, 18, was apprehended shortly before Capt. Melton was killed. He faces charges on discharging a firearm, aggravated assault and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, Gorman announced at a news conference Thursday. 

Laura Ziegler
KCUR 89.3

Family, friends, and colleagues of Capt. Robert Melton gathered Wednesday evening on the plaza outside Kansas City, Kansas, City Hall to remember the 16-year veteran of the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department. Melton was killed while pursuing a suspect on Tuesday.

Under a row of flags flying at half staff, there was a prayer, some music and words of condolence for Melton's family from Chief Terry Ziegler. Ziegler and his force are still grieving the death of another fallen officer, Det. Brad Lancaster, who was killed in May.

Laura Ziegler
KCKUR 89.3

Yesterday's killing of Capt. Robert D. Melton, 46, of the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department was a casualty of the job, Chief Terry Zeigler said at a press conference this morning.

The killing was not an ambush, he said, addressing concern that his city would become the latest site of targeted violence against law enforcement.

"This crime does not fall into the national narrative of planned attacks against police officers," the chief said in his prepared remarks. 

But he pleaded for an end to the vitriol and violence.

KCUR 89.3

Steve Bell, a mainstay of radio broadcasting in Kansas City for four decades, died Monday. He was 77.

Bell collapsed while doing what he loved most – working in the KCUR newsroom and preparing for the day’s afternoon newscast.

“We are in shock. Steve was such an integral part of KCUR,” said Donna Vestal, the station’s director of content strategy. “He was a proud, accomplished journalist who had a tremendous influence on all of us. He will be missed every day.”

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The historic Power & Light Building, a beloved Kansas City landmark, is embarking on a new life as one of the city’s swankiest apartment addresses.

With a grand opening set for Tuesday, the Power & Light Apartments redevelopment joins an increasingly competitive downtown market.  

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

More than 100 members — about half white, half African-American, mostly middle age or younger — of two Methodist churches came together Thursday night to pray, read and discuss their personal experiences of race relations.

Anna Leach

Around 11:15 p.m. Sunday night, a police car drove by a crowd of around 60 people gathered near J.C. Nichols Fountain.

A shout rang out, and others quickly chimed in, the calls of what seemed like the entire group filling the warm night air.

The yelling, though, quickly morphed into laughter.

“‘I wanna be the very best,’” Rafeael Arevael sang, echoing the song that continued to blast out of the passing car.

SWARE. / Flickr-CC

Organizers are moving forward to decriminalize marijuana in Kansas City, Missouri.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws' Kansas City branch is collecting signatures to get an initiative added to the November ballot.

Courtesy photo - Storycorps

This story was updated on Tuesday to add remarks by U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs. 

Scott Wright, a federal judge in Kansas City for 35 years, died today. He was 93.

Wright was nominated to the federal bench in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. He was chief judge from 1985 to 1990 and took senior status in 1991, but continued to handle a full caseload until ill health forced him to step down a couple of years ago.

Javier Giribet-Vargas / KERA News Special Contributor

After a deadly night for police officers in Dallas, a frustrated Sly James addressed reporters at Union Station Friday morning.

“You’ve got police officers being shot at from high altitudes by people with killing machines,” says James. “Weapons that were meant for war. The type of weapon I used when I was in the Marine Corps.”

Courtesy Beth Jacobs

Across the United States, thousands of men, women and children are being forced to work as prostitutes. 

Sex trafficking remains a big problem, but a small group is mobilizing the far-flung trucking industry to fight it.

That’s a big change from the early 1980s, when Beth Jacobs was a teenager. At the time, she thought if you were prostitute, it was your choice.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Incumbents and political hopefuls lined up Monday morning before the 2016 Lenexa Community Days Parade.

Kansas Sen. Greg Smith was near the front, right behind U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder.

“It’s just a fun event,” Smith said, adding that he participates even in non-election years. “If you’re in Northeast Johnson County, this is the place to be.”

Smith’s primary challenger, Dinah Sykes, was in the middle of the parade pack, marching alongside other moderate Republicans campaigning on public education.

Kansas City Zoo Archives

If you visited the Kansas City Zoo anytime from the late 1960s to the early 1990s you’ll probably remember the Great Blue Whale. The giant concrete play structure was made up of 18,000 pounds of concrete and metal rods.

 

The Whale so well known that I have clear memories of the whale — which is impossible since I wasn’t born until 1995.

 

The Great Blue Whale was removed from the Zoo in the 1990s, when the zoo went through major renovations. At the most, I may have caught glimpse of it from my stroller.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

"We need to finish the 18th and Vine District," said Kansas City, Missouri, Manager Troy Schulte in an opening statement at Wednesday evening's public forum on three different but intersecting plans for the historic Jazz District.

Schulte was joined on the pulpit of the Centennial United Methodist Church by 3rd District Councilman-at-Large Quinton Lucas and Harrietta Harris, a plaintiff in the court challenge to a private development plan for the Parade Park Homes.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Black Bob Elementary is one of Olathe’s flagship schools. It’s in the middle of the city, surrounded by neighborhoods, and just a few blocks away, there's a big shopping center with  a Starbucks and Walgreens.

But it didn’t always look that way. Dr. Alison Banikowski, deputy superintendent of Olathe Schools, remembers what the city looked like when she first arrived in 1982. 

“I served for the first year I was here with Blackbob Elementary, and it was really literally out in a field,”

CC--Wikimedia

Misdemeanor assault convictions for domestic violence were enough to invoke a federal ban on firearms, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday.

Annie Sturby is the community safety assessment coordinator for the Kansas City-based Rose Brooks Center. She works with police, prosecutors and others in the community who interact with victims of domestic abuse.

Rarely do women ask for help obtaining a gun of their own, Sturby says.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard, in which local musicians tell the story behind a recent song, and explain how it was constructed musically.

The musicianKristie Stremel, singer-songwriter

The song: "Orlando (Keep Dancing)"

Courtesy photo - Creative Commons

A top official with Kansas City, Missouri, says the city is committed to moving forward with digital innovations.

That's despite this week's news that Kansas City lost it's bid for a $50 million grant to create a so-called "Smart City." Columbus, Ohio, won the prize.

Bob Bennett, the city's Chief Innovation Officer, says private partners have committed somewhere in the neighborhood of $36 million toward executing important parts of the city's proposal.

Courtesy Photo: Kansas City Zoo

Yes, it's going to be a warm weekend, but at 11 o'clock Saturday morning, you'll be treated to something special if you're at the Kansas City Zoo. Some of the zoo's penguins will be parading around the Helzberg Penguin Plaza, greeting guests.

"The birds actually seem to like it," says Director of Zoological Operations, Sean Putney."When we go in to get them, they don't quite smile, but when we walk toward the door, they follow us immediately." 

U.S. Department of Transportation

Kansas City lost out to Columbus, Ohio, in a bid to become the first Smart City, but it’ll still get help from the U.S. Department of Transportation to turn its ideas into reality.

On Tuesday, as Columbus media reported their city won the $50 million challenge, the DOT said it would back all seven finalists as they build better-connected cities.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The biggest priority on Kansas City's $27.6 million proposal for tuning up the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District has nothing to do with bricks and mortar.

It’s about assuming ownership of most of the properties in the six-block district and forging a common approach to marketing and managing the area, according to City Manager Troy Schulte.

RECIPE: Indonesian 'Gado Gado' Salad

Jun 17, 2016
Anna Sturla / KCUR 89.3

When chef Matt Chatfield got married, he gained a new cuisine. His wife is Indonesian, and he soon learned to appreciate this classic Indonesian take on a hearty salad. 

“It’s a little bit of a peasant salad,” Chatfield said. “It doesn’t have any ‘fancy’ ingredients in it.”

Indonesian gado gado typically includes boiled eggs, potatoes and a peanut dressing.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A few years ago, Blue Springs police officers were fielding daily calls about disturbances at two apartment complexes near Interstate 70 and Woods Chapel Road.

Now disturbances are down at the complexes, which are  under new management. Both have been renovated recently .

Police Department Deputy Chief Bob Muenz credits the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program, a national initiative to clean up apartment complexes.

Participating landlords attend training and attach a “crime-free” addendum to their lease.

Laura Ziegler KCUR 89-3

As late afternoon sun streamed through the towering church windows of the Village Presbytarian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, Wednesday, more than a hundred people gathered to remember the dead and pray for survivors.

"For those grieving, those clinging to life, and those welcomed into God's hands, let us gather to worship," said Rev. Tom Are, Jr., softly. "We've learned that when life is broken, it's important to be in God's presence as a source of healing."

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Can data help Kansas City, Kansas, reverse decades of urban decay?

Mayor Mark Holland thinks so.

It’s economics 101, the mayor says: property values plummet when there are more houses than people. That’s what happened when white families started to leave Kansas City, Kansas, in the 1960s. 

“Thirty-thousand fewer people is about 10,000 empty homes,” Holland says, “which has become about 6,000 vacant lots.”

More minorities moved in but not fast enough to make up for the population loss. Today, fewer than 150,000 people live in Kansas City, Kansas.

Hannah Copeland / KCUR 89.3

Horrified. Sad. Distraught.

That’s how Kansas Citians felt Sunday after a weekend shooting at an Orlando gay club left 50 people dead.

But they also weren’t surprised.

“I just feel like mass shooting in this country happens really often,” John Lim said.

The alleged gunman, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, had ties to ISIS, NPR reported. Mateen was killed in a shootout with police after a nearly 3-hour standoff.

Another 53 people were injured.

Paul Mullenex, walking on the Country Club Plaza Sunday afternoon, took a grim view of what happened in Florida.

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