After years of fretting about the effects of campus carry at KU, the media are slowly coming to see that the surge of violence in Lawrence has nothing to do with what they worried about. Unfortunately, however, the media–the Kansas City Star in particular–cannot bring themselves to discuss what the real cause of the problem is.
A Star featured article on Sunday–“Lawrence grapples with increased violence that residents believe is from out-of-towners”–is a classic in cowardly misdirection.
According to the Star’s Joe Robertson, statistics from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation show an increase in aggravated assaults and murder of 63 percent in just the one year from 2015 to 2016. Statewide, the increase was 7 percent. As to the cause, Robertson tells us that “there is a concern about people from neighboring cities coming to Lawrence and getting into trouble.”
Robertson focuses in on an east Topeka neighborhood, Ripley Park, that produces “the young men and teenagers whom some Lawrence residents fear.” It was certain of these young men from Topeka who were responsible for the shoot-out that left three people dead on Massachusetts Avenue last month.
True to form, however, Robertson cannot bring himself to talk honestly about the dynamics of the black community that have bred so much violence, most of it internecine. Indeed, he does not mention race a all. After speaking in circles about east Topeka and even Kansas City, Kansas, as the breeding ground for troublemakers, he has to fall back on guns.
“Guns are hard to discuss,” one business manager tells him. “It’s so politicized. But if you don’t have guns, a lot of these things don’t happen.” A local resident affirmed, as paraphrased, that it was “the growing tension around safety as a gun control issue that is hamstrung by the nation’s divide.”
Yet guns do not begin to explain the 63 percent surge in violent crime. Some of the people Robertson interviewed made that clear. Said Sally Zogry, the executive director of Downtown Lawrence, “We have had issues with people from Topeka. I feel sorry for Topeka and their reputation.(But) most of that violent crime is not homegrown.”
As long as that violence stays in Topeka or Kansas City, the media feel free to ignore it. But when it seeps into a happy adolescent hatchery like Lawrence, the media feel compelled to cover it. It is too bad for everyone they lack the courage to tackle it like adults.