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Nonviolence rally marred by multiple fights

Akiba Winchester paraded his giant puppet down Prospect Avenue on Tuesday, part of the UniverSoul Circus. The group marched from 39th Street to a rally against violence in the parking lot of the Linwood Shopping Center.
Akiba Winchester paraded his giant puppet down Prospect Avenue on Tuesday, part of the UniverSoul Circus. The group marched from 39th Street to a rally against violence in the parking lot of the Linwood Shopping Center. The Kansas City Star

A circus parade and rally for nonviolence that drew hundreds of people to the Linwood Shopping Center on Tuesday evening had to be cut short when multiple fights broke out.

Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté said the organizers stopped the event. He tweeted that the crowds dispersed and there were no reported injuries.

But the fighting marred an event, called “Your Life Counts,” that was intended to celebrate survival in a city plagued by crime.

Performers and animals from the UniverSoul Circus paraded north on Prospect Avenue from 39th Street to the rally.

The guest of honor was Ka’Vyea Tyson-Curry, the 10-year-old boy who was paralyzed from the waist down in a Kansas City shooting that killed his father earlier this year.

“I’m not a talker,” the boy said into a microphone as he sat in the front seat of a light-blue convertible. “Thank you all for praying.”

Alvin Brooks of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime called Ka’Vyea a leader and encouraged the crowd to continue to pray that he will walk again.

“There are a number of young Ka’Vyeas out there that have been victimized by us,” Brooks said. “Folks who look just like us. Because of the evilness and the mean-spiritedness whenever these things happen.”

Two girls, 13 and 14 years old, each spoke with emotion about losing their older brothers to violence.

The UniverSoul Circus, which is performing through Saturday at Kemper Arena, is organizing anti-violence events around the country.

“We must fight the fact that much of the music children listen to has violent subject matter, and it’s promoted so well that it is entrenched in the mindset of these kids,” circus owner Cedric Walker said in an announcement. “Well, we’re going to promote positivity. We’re going to feed positivity into these communities.”

Performers in bright costumes walked on stilts through the crowd as Caribbean dancers invited young people from the audience onto the stage to do the limbo.

“Don’t tell me something good can’t happen on Prospect,” Brooks said before the fights broke out.

To reach Matt Campbell, call 816-234-4902 or send email to mcampbell@kcstar.com.

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