Editorials

Scaling back First Fridays? Kansas City can’t run inside and hide after shooting death

Kansas City cannot run inside and hide as a result of gun violence, and we’re not going to.

Organizers of First Fridays in the Crossroads Arts District announced that the monthly street festival would have to be scaled way back, for now — with no more street closures or food trucks or art vendors — after the fatal shooting of Erin Langhofer, a 25-year-old therapist and advocate for survivors of domestic violence at Rose Brooks Center.

That decision isn’t out of nowhere. The group has lost its general liability insurance as a result of the shooting, so no longer can close the streets until it finds a new carrier, which it’s scrambling to do.

No doubt those who’ve worked so hard to make a success of the event feel sick about everything that’s happened since that gun went off on the evening of Aug. 2. An 18-year-old who had been in a fight fired over his shoulder, prosecutors say, and a stray bullet struck a stranger.

But Kansas City is going to have to find a way to keep First Fridays going at full strength, because to do otherwise is to let shooters write the script and let stray bullets keep us at home.

That’s not the way to honor Ms. Langhofer, who stood up against violence in life.

Instead, here’s the way to do that: Next Friday at 6 p.m., the Leawood-based Church of the Resurrection, where Erin’s father, Tom Langhofer, is a pastor of recovery ministries, is going to hold a service celebrating his daughter’s life at the church’s downtown campus at 1601 Grand Blvd.

Mayor Quinton Lucas is going to be there, and at the First Friday event, and he hopes you will be, too. “We have a resilient community,” he tweeted, “and we will work together to support each other and to build a safe, healthy, and vibrant Kansas City for all.”

In an interview, Lucas said the response to this tragedy and others cannot be, “Oh heck, a kid brought a gun, so let’s shut it down and make the difference even more stark” between life in urban and suburban neighborhoods.

First Fridays in the Crossroads, he said, are one of the few places and times that Kansas Citians — of all ages, races and income groups — enjoy together. “We need to think about how do we spend more time together, not less. We need to make sure we have security, but you have to keep community events going.”

We agree, and we’ll see you there.

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