Video: Independence city councilman makes comment about ‘Middle Easterns’ at meeting

A city council member in Independence, Missouri, made a comment during a public meeting about stores “owned by mostly Middle Easterns who will sell anything out the back door.”

The remark was made by Councilman Curt Dougherty during a city council meeting Monday night. It came as he talked about proposing a way to regulate future medical marijuana facilities in Independence. He said the city has been able to “cap a lot of things,” including discount smoke shops, and he singled out Middle Eastern business owners as he made the point.

Video from the meeting was streamed live and posted on the city’s YouTube channel.

Dougherty’s comment came nearly 40 minutes into the meeting while the city council was considering an ordinance amending the city code pertaining to medical marijuana facilities.

During that discussion, Dougherty suggested limiting the location of medical marijuana facilities within the city. He offered an amendment to the ordinance requiring a special use permit.

“We’re not saying you can’t have them or you can only have two or three, we’re just going to tell you where you can’t have them. You can’t have them in, like the historic district,” Dougherty says in the video.

“We would have a special use permit that the council would find out where they want to put this and approve if it was a good location.”

Further on, Dougherty says they already “cap a lot of things.”

“We cap pay day loan business, you know. We had all the talk on that and that’s been really a good thing. We cap pawn shops. That’s worked out. You know, pawn shops, you know, everybody would steal it and pawn it in the middle of the night, so we throttle that back. Tattoo shops. It’s anxious to tattoo a teenager who can live only in the moment.

“Discount smoke shops owned by mostly Middle Easterns who will sell anything out the back door. We’ve limited trash trucks on the streets. We’ve limited firework stands. We have different restrictions on business licenses,” Dougherty said.

Dougherty did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment Tuesday afternoon.

A phone call to the councilman’s number listed on the city’s website said the voicemail inbox was full.

According to a report by The Examiner, Dougherty’s remark on Middle Eastern shop owners, “elicited some murmurs and gasps from the citizens who attended the meeting, but no specific follow-up from council members.”

After spending several minutes discussing the medical marijuana ordinance, the majority of the city council voted in favor of the regulations.

Kaitlyn Schwers covers breaking news and crime at night for The Kansas City Star. Originally from Willard, Mo., she spent nearly three years reporting in Arkansas and Illinois before returning to Missouri and joining The Star in 2017.