When elected mayor in 2006, Cory Booker challenged the people of Newark, N.J., to reject their complacent attitude about violent crime on city streets. Kansas City needs to embrace the same challenge if it wants to end the violence that has taken more than 1,000 lives over the last decade – and made ZIP code 64130 the state's biggest producer of incarcerated killers, says the Kansas City Star in the third in a series. Strong leadership and innovative thinking will be needed to fight decades of apathy and overcome the social conditions that foster crime. The fight must be sustained – victory declared is victory soon lost.
With Booker setting the tone that enough is enough, his city dramatically decreased its homicides. Newark finished the year with 67 homicides, down nearly a third from the year before. Kansas City recorded 126 killings, a 30 percent increase from 2007 and one of its worst years in a decade. Residents of 64130 and the convicted murderers it produced quickly pinpoint the key needs: more jobs, better education and more personal responsibility from everyone, especially from men who father children. It is possible to dismantle the murder factory, but doing so will take a total community effort, said the Rev. Eric Williams, pastor of Calvary Temple Baptist Church and a founder of the Concerned Clergy Coalition.=