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KC area Muslims ask Independence councilman to clarify racist comment

Independence councilman makes comment about ‘Middle Eastern’ store owners

Independence councilman Curt Dougherty made a comment about "Middle Eastern" store owners when talking about limiting business licenses during a council meeting on Monday, July 15, 2019.
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Independence councilman Curt Dougherty made a comment about "Middle Eastern" store owners when talking about limiting business licenses during a council meeting on Monday, July 15, 2019.

A day after a Muslim civil rights organization called on an Independence councilman to resign over his racist remark about Middle Eastern business owners, another local group is asking the official to clarify his comment.

The Crescent Peace Society is a nonprofit that works in the Kansas City area to educate others about Muslim cultures through discussion and activities for the public. The organization said it has reached out to Independence Councilman Curt Dougherty to open up a dialogue.

Dougherty is shown on video from a city council meeting that was held Monday, talking about limiting medical marijuana facilities in reference to a proposed amendment to an ordinance. During the discussion, Dougherty said they already “cap a lot of things” in the city, including discount smoke shops “owned by mostly Middle Easterns who will sell anything out the back door.”

“At face value this comment demonstrates a prejudice against citizens living in Independence who are from the Middle East or who may appear that way to Councilman Dougherty,” Crescent Peace Society President Ahsan Latif said in a statement Thursday.

“I have reached out to Councilman Dougherty in hopes that he can clarify his statement and to ask him to enter into dialogue with the Muslim community. We believe this is an opportunity for us to learn from one another and stand together against casual xenophobia.”

Latif added the group would support calls for Dougherty to step down if he “doubles down or stands by his comment.” Though the group had not received a response from the councilman as Wednesday afternoon, Latif said he was hopeful.

Dougherty has not responded to phone calls and repeated requests for comment from The Star.

A spokesperson for the city did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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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.
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