Chief Forte says police to crack down on Plaza teen disturbances - KCTV5

Chief Forte says police to crack down on Plaza teen disturbances

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Gaylyne Blewett and Marlawn Betts. A mugshot for DeShawn Barr-Cotton was not immediately available. Gaylyne Blewett and Marlawn Betts. A mugshot for DeShawn Barr-Cotton was not immediately available.

Following Saturday's disturbance on the Country Club Plaza, three teens were arrested and one juvenile was detained.

While one mother is apologizing and asking for the public's forgiveness, another teen arrested over the weekend remains unapologetic for his actions and says police racially profiled him.

Kansas City police were first called to Cinemark Palace, located at 500 Nichols Rd., about 8:15 p.m. Saturday on a large disturbance involving about 150 juveniles. Police said they dispersed the unruly group; however, they scattered through the Plaza.

Police reports said following the disturbance 17-year-old Gaylyne E. Blewett, 19-year-old Marlawn Betts and 18-year-old DeShawn Barr-Cotton were spotted walking in the street southbound on JC Nichols Parkway toward West 47th Street. An officer said he told them to walk on the sidewalk, but they didn't follow his instructions and continued walking in the street.

When the officer tried to arrest the three teens, the police report said Blewett resisted and refused to put his hands behind his back. He also gave the officer different spellings of his first and last names to try to hide his identity.

The other two men were arrested without incident.

The three face various municipal citations.

Rashanda Dawson said her 13-year-old son was one of the troublemakers on the Plaza Saturday night.

"As always he was going over his friend's house and he ended up somewhere else," Dawson said.

A police report said the 13-year-old boy was detained for disorderly conduct after officers said they first saw him fighting with a 12-year-old girl and then about an hour later with another boy. The 13-year-old was released to his mother.

"I would like everyone to forgive me for what he did. You won't' see him down there (on the Plaza) no more under my circumstances," Dawson said.

But another mother, LaTonya Thomas, has a different message she wants the public to hear about the Plaza problems.

"The only thing he did was get out the car and walk across the street," Thomas said.

Thomas' son is Blewett, one of the three teens cited. Blewett said the police report didn't properly explain what happened Saturday.

"I said ‘I hope I'm not going to jail.' He said, ‘oh, resisting arrest,' they put the handcuffs on me, slammed my head against the car and arrested me," the teen said.

Blewett's friend didn't want to be named and wasn't arrested that night, but he said the Plaza was crowded Saturday night and their only crime was being black.

"I just think they don't want us young black males down there in their part of the town, which you can't help that, this is a free world. I'm sorry that we came to your Plaza, but guess what, this is our Plaza too," the friend said. "They came on horses. They hopping up on everybody they see, slamming them up against cars, giving people jaywalking tickets, taking them downtown for a jaywalking ticket. Are you serious? For a jaywalking ticket? For real? You took them all the way downtown?"

Blewett now owes the city more than $1,200 in fines.

A Kansas City Police Department spokesperson said Blewett and his friends were jumping in front of traffic and obstructing the flow of traffic, but those details weren't included in the police report.

KCTV5 asked Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forte about the teenagers' claims that they were singled out because of their race. He said race was not an issue and the three teens cited for walking in the street received multiple warnings before they were arrested.

Forte said he won't tolerate more trouble on the entertainment district.

"We can't arrest our self out of this, we can't open a community center every week and hold people there. It has to be bigger than that, it has to be a change of attitude," he said.

The police chief is now spelling out his plan to prevent crowds of teens at the Plaza from getting out of hand. He said more undercover officers will be used and they will be taken from the officers who are part of the department's ‘hot spot' patrols. Police will use more portable cameras to monitor crowds. There will be no more warnings given to teens who cause trouble and they will be given citations.

"What we are going to do is not to tolerate the behavior that has been going on, on the Plaza for the last 10 years. We've done different things throughout the year. We're going to step up the responsibility level of those that come to the Plaza. We'll no longer follow these kids around the Plaza and plead with them to do the right thing, we're going to start citing more people," Forte said.

He said they will continue to do their part, but he encourages parents to get more involved too.

"We're just pleading with the parents to be responsible. If your kid is going to spend the night with someone, go check," Forte said.

He also said he doesn't expect to see changes overnight.

"We'll see results this weekend. If we work our plan, we adhere to our plan, we'll see results. The results could be increased arrests, our results could be getting our message out to more people, saying ‘We're not going to tolerate you being in any area and being disruptive and violating the law,'" Forte said.

Forte said he also doesn't see a need to change the city's curfew ordinance.

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