Kansas City endured one of its most controversial incidents three months ago when the City Council modified the city’s teen summer curfew, following a shooting in the Country Club Plaza that injured three teenagers. Although the new curfew maintained former summer constraints, it enacted stricter restrictions in entertainment districts, such as the Country Club Plaza and the Power and Light District.
Since then, opponents of the law have suggested it highlights racial biases and infringements on civil liberties.
Mayor Sly James chose to respond to the criticism about the legal revision last Wednesday at a panel discussion, hosted by the School of Law.
“Sometimes in order to get the right thing done, you have to do some things that aren’t easy, and people don’t necessary like,” James said.
The local chapter of the ACLU, which threatened to file a lawsuit against the enactment in August, aided the integrity of the enactment when ACLU legal director Doug Bonney joined James and renounced the threat of a lawsuit at the discussion.
“I think the city did a pretty good job of drafting this ordinance and taking into consideration all of the civil liberties issues that they should,” Bonney said to KCTV 5 after the discussion.
Joined by Bonney and City Attorney Galen Beaufort, the mayor intentionally used the event as a way to engage with prospective legal professionals, who may end up drafting similarly controversial legislation and tough choices.
James said the discussion was a good way to expose UMKC’s law students to the political nature of legal professions.
“You cannot look at the superficial and reach a conclusion,” he said. “You have to understand the permutations of any set of facts, any set of circumstances, and how that plays out in the public eye and what you options are.”