Smoking tires and burning doughnuts to stop crime? It has to be ‘legit,’: KC official

Of the many anti-violence messages Desmound Logan has preached through his engine-screaming, tire-smoking car shows, befriending the Kansas City police as team members is as important as any.

So he and fellow community activist Michael Cooper didn’t resist their arresting officers Sunday, but offered up their wrists to be handcuffed.

Their sideshow car event — “Smoke Your Tires Not Your Homies” — once again had drawn a large crowd to watch doughnut-burning sports cars.

And although they have the support of at least one city council member for the concept of using the allure of cars to gather their community in peace, they knew that holding Sunday’s event might turn into an act of civil disobedience.

The show had gotten too big the last time, more than a year ago, when it was off of Prospect Avenue. The city banned them, saying they needed proper permits and insurance.

The months since then were frustrating, Logan said, trying to get help from the city to support a show that had begun drawing hundreds of people, thrilled by the cars, and promoting an “All Lives Matter” and “Stop the Violence” campaign.

Maybe they could sneak one off, raise some money and use it to put some cash together to do the event the way the city wanted them to.

No such luck, Logan said the day after police shut down Sunday’s show at an industrial parking lot in the 6600 block of Blue Ridge Boulevard, near the Kansas City-Raytown border.

“We didn’t even make enough money to pay our bond,” Logan said.

The day started Sunday with the “All Lives Matter Cruise” in which performers and spectators paraded in their cars. Then came the tire-smoking event, where performers spun their cars in tight circles. There was no gate admission, just requests for donations.

The end came after one of the doughnut-burning sports cars kicked up a piece of debris that hit and injured a spectator. Someone called for an ambulance, which in turn called for help from police to navigate the cars and people jammed around the scene.

Logan, Cooper and two other people were charged with being spectators at an illegal motor vehicle speed competition.

“Here it is the end of the summer and we’ve had all these murders,” Logan said. “I understand we need the police. I’m trying to close (the gap on) this bridge . . . They ask for community leaders and I stand up, then they kick me back down.”

Kansas City councilwoman Alissia Canady sympathizes with Logan and the work he is trying to do — to a point.

“He has the right focus,” Canady said. “He can have events without incidents and that shows he’s a leader. We support a number of anti-violence activities, but it has to be something the city can be supportive of. We can’t underwrite this.”

Logan came to the city council in April 2017 to seek its help and permission, and Canady had meetings with Logan and some of the Kansas City Police Department command staff.

Canady wants to see endeavors like Logan’s succeed, she said.

“He’s a good guy,” she said. “He’s from this community. He’s one of the guys who wants to give back. He has to figure out how to do it within the parameters allowed. If it was safe, with proper insurance, we could work with him on that.”

Canady said staffers searched among city properties and have not found a setting that would safely serve the event’s needs.

There’s got to be someplace to go — whether on private or public property — Logan said.

“All we need is concrete, bleachers and barricades,” he said. “We don’t need electricity. We can get this cracking with generators.”

The costs, along with whatever insurance premium would be required, are difficult for the small-pocketed organizers to afford, Logan said, but the rewards would go far.

Parents can bring their kids to the show, he said. The smoking cars draw a crowd. In the past, when the event was smaller, the police were invited and joined them. They all simply hung out together.

“Kids see the police in a new light,” Logan said. “They see them as protectors, not arresters.”

Kansas City police spokesman Capt. Lionel Colón said the department is always looking for partnerships with community groups and leaders in anti-violence efforts.

Canady said the city wants to grow relationships with people like Logan and Cooper because they can engage young people in ways police and politicians can’t.

But, she added, it has to be “legit.”