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Headlines for Tuesday, June 2, 2020

 

Ongoing Protests over Death of George Floyd Remain Tense, Destructive in Kansas City, St. Louis

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Missouri protests continued over the death of George Floyd and police treatment of African Americans, with gatherings in Kansas City, St. Louis and Jefferson City. In St. Louis Monday night, protesters smashed windows on a downtown business and stole items before the building caught on fire. Earlier Monday, several hundred people rallied downtown, including Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards.  Across the state, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and Police Chief Rick Smith kneeled with protesters gathered at the Country Club Plaza entertainment district.   

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Arrests in Topeka, Wichita Mar Generally Peaceful Protests in Kansas

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — Topeka police say seven people were arrested after protesters threw rocks and debris at officers during confrontations at the Topeka police headquarters. The confrontation Monday night was the first major violence reported from demonstrations in Kansas over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. It came hours after several hundred people demonstrated peacefully in downtown Topeka. Police say at one point, law enforcement officers were hit with rocks and debris while rescuing a protester who needed medical attention. Topeka police Capt. Mike Cross said some officers were hit with bricks but were not seriously injured. Wichita police chief Gordon Ramsey said officers moved in to disperse between 50 and 70 people after they became hostile toward officers. Three Wichita officers suffered minor injuries.

Weekend Protests over Death of George Floyd Turn Violent in Kansas City; Curfew Imposed

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP/KPR) — Weekend protests in Kansas City turned violent prompting officials to impose a curfew in some areas of the city.  Demonstrators gathered in Kansas City and in cities across the country to protest the death of George Floyd in Minnesota and to protest the treatment of blacks in general by law enforcement.  Floyd died in Minneapolis after an officer pressed his knee on Floyd's neck for several minutes while Floyd pleaded with the officer that he could not breathe.  Protests in Kansas City devolved into violence late Saturday, leaving businesses on the County Club Plaza damaged.  Ten people suffered injuries and at least 85 people were arrested.  The Kansas City Police Department says significant damage was caused to businesses on the Plaza, police officers were injured and two officers were hospitalized.   “Nearly all officers hit with frozen water bottles or rocks. Two officers hospitalized from being struck, one with an injury to the temple and one with a lacerated liver,” Kansas City Police tweeted Sunday.  Missouri Governor Mike Parson activated the Missouri National Guard, and has signed an executive order declaring that a state of emergency exists in Missouri, due to civil unrest.  The governor says citizens have the right to peacefully assemble and to protest.  “Violence and destruction are not the answers. I support those who are calling for justice and peace. However, a small element has seized on these peaceful demonstrations to commit violent acts that endanger the lives of citizens and bring destruction to our communities,” Governor Parson said in a written statement. 

Kansans Take Part in Mostly Peaceful Demonstrations Against the Death of George Floyd

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/LJW/KPR) — Several hundred protesters held a rally at the Kansas Statehouse over the weekend to protest the death of George Floyd, the black man who died in Minnesota after a white police officer knelt on his neck.  Similar and mostly peaceful protests were held in cities across the state, including Wichita, Lawrence, Manhattan and Salina.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports Sunday evening's protest in Lawrence was peaceful and drew what appeared to be thousands of people.  The newspaper also reports Lawrence police officers were seen handing out bottles of water to demonstrators.  Those gathered in Topeka chanted and wore T-shirts Saturday that recalled the 2017 case of a black man fatally shot by two white police officers in the capital city.  Organizers had promised a peaceful protest and opened the rally with prayer. The racially diverse crowd included children and older adults and held signs with slogans such as "I Can't Breathe" and "Stop Lynching Us." The event in Topeka also highlighted the death of Dominique White in September 2017.

PHOTO ESSAY: Peaceful Protests in Topeka and Lawrence Call for an End to Racism, Police Violence   

Kansas Governor: Deploying Military to Quell Violent Protestors Would Do More Harm

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/KPR) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly says that bringing the military “into this contentious moment” would do more harm than good.  Kelly on Monday expressed sympathy for George Floyd’s family, families of other people killed by police and people outraged by Floyd’s “tragic murder.” She promised to work to address systemic racism.  “We need our leaders -- myself included -- to listen to those who felt their only means of being heard was to take to the street in protest,” Kelly said after President Donald Trump threatened to deploy the military to states if they did not stamp out violent protests.  “We need action to change the systemic inequalities we have ignored for far too long. We need to stop with the divisive language and instead, come together and do what’s right for our state,” Kelly added.  The Democratic governor said she’s asked her team to give the issue their full attention and to come up with a plan to “take action in earnest.” She said her heart goes out to those reliving the trauma of violence and systemic racism.  She also noted Kansas protests have been peaceful and promised to work closely with local officials to ensure public safety. 

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Kansas Governor Vetoes Property Tax Bill, 2 Other Measures

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Governor Laura Kelly has vetoed a property tax bill and two other measures approved by the Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature. Kelly said in a statement Monday that each of the bills could create financial problems for state and local governments stressed by economic woes tied to the coronavirus pandemic. One bill would have required cities and counties to take public votes when spending extra property tax revenues. Another measure would have given banks a tax credit. The third bill would have created a report card on the state's foster care system, and Kelly said that could cost millions of dollars.

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Kansas Governor's Team to Discuss Coronavirus Relief Funds

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Laura Kelly says a team she appointed to help her plan for the state’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic will begin discussing this week how to spend $1.25 billion in federal relief funds. The Democratic governor also said Monday that she is confident that she can work out an agreement with the Republican-controlled Legislature to give them some oversight over how the funds are spent. Kelly said the money has to be distributed by the end of the year, and she expects the first round of spending to include payments to cities and counties to cover their coronavirus-related costs.

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Kansas No Longer Shielding People from Evictions, Foreclosures

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is no longer shielding renters and homeowners who are financially strapped because of the coronavirus pandemic from being evicted or having lenders foreclose on their mortgages. Kelly allowed an executive order banning new evictions and foreclosures to expire May 26. The Wichita Eagle reports that her office confirmed Monday that the executive order no longer was in place. Renters’ advocates warned that unemployment benefits and one-time federal stimulus checks won’t be enough to keep people in their homes. Landlords and apartment owners said evictions are likely weeks away and that they’re willing to work with tenants who've fallen behind.

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Kansas to Ask U.S. Supreme Court to Save Its Voter Citizenship Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’s Republican attorney general plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the state to require new voters to provide papers documenting their citizenship when registering. Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced Tuesday that he will appeal a 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in April that said the state could not enforce a proof-of-citizenship law. An appeals-court panel said the law violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal legal protection as well as a federal voter registration law. The law was championed by former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as a way to combat voter fraud.

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Kansas Cases of COVID-19 Exceed 10,000, Including 217 Deaths 

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — On Monday, state health officials had reported 10,011 cases of COVID-19, including 217 deaths.  Cases have been reported in 88 of the state's 105 counties.  (Updated COVID-19 case numbers for Kansas are released Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.)  

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Missouri Governor Cuts $209 Million from Budget Because of Virus

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's governor is cutting another $209 million from this year's budget in response to declining revenues because of the coronavirus. Republican Gov. Mike Parson announced the cuts Monday. The cuts include $123 million in core funding to public K-12 schools and $34 million from four-year public colleges. Much of the cuts to K-12 schools will be offset by federal funding. Parson says the cuts were necessary during what he described as unprecedented bad economic times. The governor has cut a total of $428 million in state funding so far this year.

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With Mike Pompeo Out, Kansas GOP Looks to Congressman Roger Marshall to Win U.S. Senate Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is officially out of the race for an open Senate seat in Kansas, and western Kansas Congressman Roger Marshall is now the focus of hope for many Republicans.  Those Republicans want to keep immigration hardliner and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach from winning the GOP nomination. Republican leaders had not expected Pompeo to give up his post as the nation’s top diplomat as the state’s candidate filing deadline came and went Monday.  Yet he remained the top choice for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP leaders. His decision not to file leaves Marshall and Kobach as the two top contenders in the 11-candidate GOP field.

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Family of Man Killed in Police Beanbag Shooting to Get $3.5 Million

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials will pay $3.5 million to the family of a man who was killed in 2017 with a homemade beanbag round fired by from a Barber County undersheriff at close range. An attorney for the family said in a written statement Monday that Barber County will pay the amount to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit brought by the widow of Steven Myers, who was unarmed and following law enforcement commands when he was shot ön October 6, 2017, by Barber County Undersheriff Virgil “Dusty” Brewer. Brewer is on unpaid leave after being charged in 2018 with reckless involuntary manslaughter in Myers's death.

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Shooting on Interstate in Kansas City, Kansas Kills 2

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police say two people were shot to death while driving in Kansas City, Kansas, over the weekend.  Police identified the victims Monday as 41-year-old Talisha Fay Johnson and 38-year-old Anthony Michael Johnson, both of Overland Park. They were shot Saturday night while on an exit ramp from Interstate 70. Two juveniles in the car were not harmed. The suspect, 21-year-old Isaiah Montez Taylor, of Overland Park, was arrested at the scene and faces two counts of first-degree murder. Police believe the shooting stemmed from a domestic dispute.

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Homicides Spike in Kansas City; Murders Now on Possible Record Pace

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — St. Louis has for years suffered the unwanted distinction of having one of the nation’s highest homicide rates. But it’s Missouri’s other big city that is on pace for perhaps the deadliest year on record. Kansas City police report 68 homicides so far this year, compared to 56 in the same period a year ago. The city ended 2019 with 150 homicides, three short of the 1993 record. This year, Kansas City is on pace to top the record, and that doesn’t account for the fact that summer months are typically the most deadly. Neither police nor experts see a connection to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Coronavirus Brings Changes to Polling Places in Missouri

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — Local election officials across Missouri who have scrambled to make polling places as safe as possible during the coronavirus pandemic will see if their efforts pay off today (TUE).  While each county is different, voters in local elections are likely to see poll workers wearings masks or face shields, social distancing requirements and single-use styluses to fill out their ballots. Concerns about voter safety prompted Republican Governor Mike Parson to move local elections from April 7 to today (TUE).  With voter turnout expected to be light, election officials say this will be a practice run to help them prepare for much busier elections in August and November.

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Kansas Setting Record for Mail Ballot Requests Amid Pandemic

WASHINGTON (AP) — Kansas election officials are receiving mail ballot applications at a historic rate, already exceeding the total number from the last general election in 2016. Election officials are encouraging voting by mail amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Kansas City Star reports that figures from Secretary of State Scott Schwab's office show that staff had processed more than 57,000 applications as of Friday. That's over 3,500 more than 2016's total, and the number is expected to increase. County officials aim to prevent long lines in August and November, as voters elect a new U.S. senator and other lawmakers.

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Ex-Kansas City Officer Pleads in Fatal Wreck near Arrowhead

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Kansas City police officer pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in a 2018 wreck near Arrowhead Stadium that killed a Kansas teenager. Police allege 35-five-year-old Terrell Watkins was speeding in a police van in October 2018 when he hit the back of a car as traffic backed up to get into a Kansas City Chiefs game. The crash killed 17-year-old Chandan Rajanna, of Overland Park. Rajanna's father and sister, and Watkins were seriously injured. Investigators say Watkins was speeding, recklessly changing lanes and using his phone shortly before the wreck. 

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Will Open Seats be Familiar Sight in Sports as Virus Fades?

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic has forced sports teams and their leagues to evaluate how they will welcome back fans. Social distancing is very likely whenever it happens. In Taiwan, a limited number of fans have been allowed into baseball games and told to sit three seats apart. U.S. colleges and pro leagues are assessing how to handle fans for fall sports, inlcuding football. Already Iowa State and Notre Dame are among schools planning for stadiums far less than full. Teams are also trying to figure out ways to prevent crowds entering or leaving, and limiting people on concourses.  The University of Kansas and Kansas State University have not yet released plans for their own seating arrangements for upcoming football and basketball seasons.

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Non-Revenue Sports Fret over College Athlete Compensation

UNDATED (AP) — Coaches in non-revenue sports are worried about the impact legislation allowing compensation for college athletes could have on their programs. More than a dozen national associations in various sports have signed onto a memo outlining "significant concerns" about effects of allowing athletes to profit on use of their names, images and likenesses. Those include reduced resources for lower-profile programs and the risk of "crowdfunded recruiting" to give some schools a competitive advantage. The memo from North Carolina athletics officials went to a law committee examining whether to craft a standardized athlete-compensation law for states to adopt. That committee meets today (TUE).  

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Court Rules that Chiefs Don't Owe $1 Million in Back Taxes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court has found that the Kansas City Chiefs don’t owe $1 million in back taxes on the decade-old Arrowhead Stadium renovation after all. The Kansas City Star reports that the court found Tuesday that the state’s Administrative Hearing Commission erred last year when it ruled that the team should have paid sales taxes on a number of items bought during the $375 million upgrade. The case stems from a 2014 audit in which the Missouri Department of Revenue challenged sales tax exemptions on $23 million in purchases. But the Chiefs contended that nearly all of the purchases the team funded were exempt from sales taxes.

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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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