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Headlines for Friday, June 5, 2020

Kansas City Announces Planned Reform of Police Procedures

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says the city is making sweeping changes in police procedures in response to concerns raised by citizens during a week of protests. The Kansas City Police Commission held a closed meeting Thursday to discuss complaints from black leaders and citizens about police conduct during the protests. Lucas said the city will ask an outside agency to investigate all officer-involved shootings, will create whistleblower protections for officers and review the use of tear gas and projectiles. A coalition of civil rights groups called for Police Chief Rick Smith's resignation but Lucas said Smith will remain the city's chief.

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Kansas City Prosecutor Urges Reporting of Police Misconduct

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The prosecutor in Jackson County, Missouri, is reaching out to Kansas City protesters who believe they were victims of police misconduct, urging them to report their allegations online. Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker says her office is reviewing allegations of police misconduct during recent protests sparked by the death of George Floyd. The handcuffed black man died after being restrained by Minneapolis police on May 25. People who believe they've been victimized by police are encouraged to provide evidence, including videos, of excessive force on a web page linked to the prosecutor's website.

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Kansas City Mayor Pardons Man Who Recorded Police Arrest

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)  — Kansas City's mayor has pardoned a man who was convicted of a misdemeanor after filming officers who were arresting a transgender woman. Mayor Quinton Lucas said Thursday he was pardoning Roderick Reed so citizens know they have the right to film police conduct. Reed was convicted of failing to obey a lawful order after filming the violent arrest by Kansas City officers who have since been charged with assault. Reed's video was key to indicting the officers. The Kansas City Star reports that this week, a city council committee voted to advance a proposal to amend the city's ordinance on lawfully obeying police orders.

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2 Arrested over Social Media Post Have Been Released

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two men who were arrested over a widely circulated social media post that urged violence and looting in suburban Wichita neighborhoods have been released. The Wichita Eagle reports that the arrests of 20-year-old Michael Boston Jr., of Wichita, and 19-year-old Rashawn Mayes Jr., of Park City, on suspicion of incitement of a riot sparked immediate outcry on social media. Wichita City Council member Brandon Johnson posted a supportive video on Facebook, saying the men “were arrested for sharing information that we all saw.”

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Man Charged with Stabbing Kansas City Police Officer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man has been charged with stabbing a Kansas City police officer while suffering what appeared to be a mental health crisis. Twenty-four-year-old Austin Lewis, of Independence, was charged Thursday with first-degree assault and armed criminal action. His bond is set at $200,000 cash. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. A police detective wrote in the probable cause statement that the stabbing happened Wednesday after the officer was dispatched on a medical call in downtown Kansas City and saw Lewis huffing an unknown substance. The officer was waiting with Lewis for an ambulance, when Lewis reached into a pant pocket, pulled out a kitchen knife and stabbed the officer in the chest.

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Protests Against Police Brutality Reach Small City in Western Kansas

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Big crowds are protesting police brutality in a small Kansas city. Kansas News Service reports more than 1,000 people demonstrated Wednesday in Garden City. Roughly 26,000 people live in the city in western Kansas. A high school senior organized the protest. Demonstrators marched around a Garden City park and chanted “I can't breathe.” Protests around the world were sparked by the death of George Floyd. The handcuffed black man died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for minutes, even after he stopped moving.  (Click here to see photos of the Garden City protest, compiled by High Plains Public Radio and the Kansas News Service.) 

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Supporters Ram Bipartisan Coronavirus Plan Through Kansas Legislature

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Supporters of a bipartisan plan to give Kansas lawmakers some oversight of Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s response to the coronavirus pandemic have rammed it through the Republican-controlled Legislature. The Senate voted 26-12 for a bill containing a plan negotiated by Kelly and her staff with top Republican legislators. Supporters allowed no debate, cutting off any chance for opponents to try to amend the bill after the House passed it Wednesday night, 107-12. Governor Kelly pledged to sign it. Republican critics do not think the bill would go far enough to prevent coronavirus-related lawsuits against nursing homes. Some Democrats complained it went too far in shielding businesses from lawsuits.

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Kansas Governor Considering Relief for Renters, Home Owners

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly says her administration will consider using part of Kansas’s share of federal coronavirus relief funds to help people struggling to pay their rent or mortgage because of economic problems tied to the pandemic. Kelly on Friday defended a May 26 decision to rescind an executive order that had banned landlords from pursuing new evictions or lenders from starting to foreclose on home mortgages. She said she had to lift the order because keeping it in place would have stressed lenders and businesses that rent homes and apartments. But she said creating a new relief program would be a top priority.

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US Rep. Roger Marshall Can't List Himself as `Doc' on Ballot

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall will not be able to use the nickname “Doc” on the August Republican primary ballot as he runs in a crowded field for the U.S. Senate. The Kansas State Objections Board on Friday rejected Marshall’s request. It says the nickname referred to Marshall’s medical career and professional accomplishments or titles aren’t allowed on ballots. Marshall is a Great Bend obstetrician who is competing against former Secretary of State and immigration hardliner Kris Kobach for the Republican nomination for Senate, along with nine other candidates. 

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Republican Controlled Kansas Senate Rejects Democratic Governor's Nominee for Appeals Court

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Republican-led Kansas Senate has rejected Democratic Governor Laura Kelly's latest nominee for the state Court of Appeals.  On Wednesday, the state Senate rejected Kelly's nomination of state and federal public defender Carl Folsom III.  The Wichita Eagle reports that Folsom was rejected largely because he represented a client convicted of possessing child pornography.  Republican Senator Molly Baumgardner criticized Folsom for arguing for a reduced sentence for his client. Democratic Senator Vic Miller challenged Baumgardner, noting that public defenders don't choose their clients. Kelly chalked up Folsom's rejection to "political games."

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Kansas City, Kansas, Police Find Man Shot to Death

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, say officers found a man shot to death in a residential neighborhood on the city's west side. Police were called just before 8 pm Thursday to the Kensington neighborhood for reports of gunfire and found man dead who had suffered a gunshot wound. Police had not released the man's name by early Friday morning, and no arrests had been reported. Police asked anyone with information on the shooting to call the CrimeStoppers tips hotline.

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Police: Motorcyclist Killed After Crashing into Building

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, say a man has died after crashing his motorcycle into a building. Police say in a news release that the crash happened around 7:30 pm Thursday.  Police say an initial investigation showed the man was eastbound on a city street when he left the roadway and crashed into the building. Police have not released the name of the man, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

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Windows, Doors Broken, 3 Hurt in Kansas Prison Riot

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Part of a Kansas prison has been placed on lockdown after a riot in which windows were broken and two staff members and one inmate were hurt. The Kansas Department of Corrections said in a news release that the melee started Wednesday evening with a physical altercation between two inmates in the dining hall at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility. The release said that a "chemical agent was deployed to help gain control of the situation" and that the remaining offenders were moved to a yard for decontamination. Another altercation then erupted in the yard between two offenders, leading about 40 other inmates to start throwing objects at corrections officers.     

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Kansas Cases of COVID-19 Exceed 10,300, Including 232 Deaths 

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — As of Friday, state health officials reported 10,393 cases of COVID-19, including 232 deaths.  Cases have been reported in 89 of the state's 105 counties.  (Updated COVID-19 case numbers for Kansas are released Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.) 

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Populous Kansas Counties See Dozens of New Coronavirus Cases

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’s four most populous counties reported dozens of new coronavirus cases in the past two days. That's part of an increase that’s occurred since Gov. Laura Kelly lifted statewide restrictions on businesses. The state Department of Health and Environment said Friday that Kansas has had a total of 10,393 novel coronavirus cases since the pandemic reached it in early March. That’s up 2.2% or 223 from Wednesday. The department’s figures show that 70% of the new cases over the past two days came from the state's four most populous counties. Johnson, Sedgwick, Shawnee and Wyandotte counties accounted for 156 new cases. 

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Missouri Sees Biggest Increase in Coronavirus Cases in Month

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) — Missouri reported a sharp increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases this week, particularly in the Kansas City area. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the 290 new cases announced Thursday amount to the biggest single-day increase in the state since May 4. Dr. Randall Williams, Missouri's top health official, says improved testing could account for some of that increase but there could be other factors. He says state health officials are paying attention to the Kansas City metropolitan area, which had a triple-digit increase in cases for the third consecutive day. The metropolitan area, which includes two Kansas counties, reported 133 new cases Thursday.

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Missouri Health Official: No New COVID-19 Cases from Parties at Lake of the Ozarks

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's top health official says no additional cases of the new coronavirus have been reported stemming from the crowded pool parties at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks over the Memorial Day weekend. Camden County Health Department reported last week that a Boone County resident who had attended the parties tested positive for the virus. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Dr. Randall Williams, the director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, said Wednesday that no more cases have been uncovered since. Social media posts showed crowds of mostly young people without masks and not adhering to social distancing guidelines at pools along the central Missouri lake.

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New Missouri Law Expands Absentee Voting During Pandemic

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Governor Mike Parson has signed a bill into law that will allow people to vote by mail this year if they’re concerned about the coronavirus. Parson signed the bill Thursday. Currently, voters can request absentee ballots only if they provide an excuse for why they can’t vote in person. The law isn't explicit on whether the current illness excuse covers healthy people concerned about COVID-19. Under the new law, people considered at-risk of the coronavirus could vote absentee without needing to have their ballot notarized. Anyone else could cast a mail-in ballot but would need to get it notarized.

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Ivanka Trump Won't Deliver WSU Tech Commencement Speech

WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW) — Ivanka Trump will no longer be the featured commencement speaker at WSU Tech’s virtual graduation ceremony tomorrow (SAT).  Trump is co-chair of the American Workforce Policy Advisory board and visited WSU Tech last fall. She also serves as an adviser to her father, President Donald Trump. Yesterday's announcement by the school that she would speak was heavily criticized on social media. Late last (THUR) night, WSU Tech said a student who is graduating will be the only speaker during the ceremony.  Other speakers, including Ivanka Trump, will offer prerecorded comments after the ceremony ends.

(–additional reporting–)

Wichita State Cancels Ivanka Trump's Speech to Tech School

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas technical school has canceled plans for Ivanka Trump to give a virtual commencement speech to graduates because of criticism of President Donald Trump’s response to protests over the the death of George Floyd. Administrators at Wichita State University and WSU Tech announced the decision late Thursday, just hours after they had announced the president’s daughter would be speaking to WSU Tech graduates. The two universities are affiliated. Administrators of both said Saturday’s graduation for the technical university would be “refocused” on students, with a nursing graduate as the only speaker.

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Kansas Man Pleads Guilty in 2018 Killing of Pregnant Mother

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors say a Junction City man has pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the 2018 Christmas killing of a pregnant mother. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says in a news release Friday that 34-year-old Dion Jamel Green pleaded guilty in Geary County District Court for the December 2018 deaths of 31-year-old Jenna Schafer, of Junction City, and her unborn child. Green's sentencing has been set for Oct. 28. Early in the case, prosecutors had said Green was hired to kill Schafer, who was found dead in a Junction City apartment on Christmas Day 2018. But a second man arrested in the case and accused of hiring Green later had charges against him dropped.

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Walnut Valley Festival Postponed until 2021

WINFIELD, Kan. (KPR)  — Officials with the Walnut Valley Association have announced that the 49th annual Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, scheduled for September 2020, has been postponed until September of 2021. The festival, traditionally held on the 3rd weekend of September, generally draws between 10,000 and 15,000 people for the popular acoustic music event. Plans for this year now call for a series of virtual concerts and events to take place this September, with donations going to support performers and others who have experienced financial or other hardships because of the coronavirus pandemic. More information about ticket refunds and upcoming festival plans is available at www.wvfest.com.
 
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KCK's Long-Closed Woodlands Race Track Listed for Sale

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — After failing to convince lawmakers to change the state's gambling laws, the owner of a long-closed Kansas horse and dog racing track is selling the property. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, said in a news release Wednesday that Las Vegas casino owner Phil Ruffin is tentatively selling the former Woodlands racetrack to Scannell Properties, which proposes building a warehouse distribution facility and office park with retail development.

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Russell Stover Chocolates Closing Colorado Plant over Virus

DENVER (AP/KPR) — Russell Stover Chocolates has announced that its candy plant in Montrose, Colorado, will close seven months ahead of schedule because of the coronavirus pandemic. That means that 217 employees will lose their jobs. The Kansas City, Missouri-based company had announced in January that the plant and a Montrose retail store close by March 2021, with operations shifted to Kansas and Texas.  The process was accelerated because of COVID-19. The plant employed about 400 people when the company first made the announcement. But many employees already left for other jobs. The remaining 217 workers will be let go by the end of August.  The company has deep roots in both Colorado and Kansas.  The founder, Russell Stover, was born in western Kansas.  He and his wife first began selling their candies in Colorado.  

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NASCAR Announces Another Wave of Races Through August

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR’s All-Star Race will be a midweek event on July 15 at Charlotte Motor Speedway as part of a new revision to the schedule that runs through the first weekend of August. The revisions involve Pocono Raceway and the speedways in Indianapolis, Kentucky, Texas, Kansas and New Hampshire. NASCAR made no mention of whether spectators will be allowed at any of the events but Indianapolis, Kentucky and Kansas all said their events would not have fans. NASCAR leadership has not been available for public comment since May 17.

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KPR's daily headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and updated throughout the day.  KPR's weekend summary is usually published by 1 pm Saturdays and Sundays. 

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