Daja Lacey wasn’t going to be deterred.
The 14-year-old freshman at William Chrisman High School in Independence saw on social media last week various rumors that fights would erupt Saturday during Sly’s Rock the Block youth street party. It would be similar to the unrest that has occurred 250 miles away in Ferguson, Mo., following the police shooting death of an unarmed teen.
“I’m just not scared of anything,” Daja said. “I just wanted to come out to have fun. I can see my friends from my old school that I don’t get to see anymore and get out of the house.”
Saturday’s event at Union Station, featuring music, carnival games and an assortment of food and giveaways, was planned for families and youths to celebrate the end of summer vacation. However, the recent rioting in Ferguson loomed heavy over the free event. On Saturday, Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency for the St. Louis suburb and implemented an overnight curfew in an effort to stem a new wave of violence.
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Police and event organizers in Kansas City were determined that similar trouble would not occur here.
Some additional police officers were added to the security detail already assigned to the event, said Mayor Sly James.
As of 11 p.m., only a few minor incidents had been reported.
About 10:30 p.m., two teenage girls fought near James as he was leaving the event. Nearby officers intervened. About 45 minutes earlier, two teen boys got into a brief shoving match and rolled over a table. About the same time, two other boys squabbled. All were escorted out by police.
“We’re going to have a couple quibbles when you have this many kids, just as long as it didn’t get out of hand,” James said.
Earlier in the day, James said he anticipated no major trouble would emerge from the crowd of teens and young adults.
“The people here aren’t expressing anger or upset,” the mayor said. “... They are dancing, they are having a good time, celebrating the youth of the city, and that is exactly what I expected.”
An assortment of tents dotted the parking lot and brimmed with children playing carnival games, having their faces painted and creating craft items. Food trucks were parked along Pershing Road. Those who arrived early for the block party were given tickets that could be exchanged for a hot dog, a bag of chips and a cup of lemonade.
Music blared from a DJ stationed at the entrance to Union Station, and Royals mascot Sluggerrr mingled with the throng of children and adults, giving high-fives and posing for photos.
A bouncy house also entertained children.
Barbie Gran of Lee’s Summit said Saturday’s block party was a good way to spend the afternoon.
“I was surprised ... it was free,” she said. “My daughter wanted to go... and I didn’t know if I had any money ... but it didn’t matter.”