What Is Happening In Westport Is Not A “Litter and Tent Cleanup”, It Is A Ruthless Assault On People & Families

KANSAS CITY – A Fox4 article wrote at 10:48am this morning, “The Kansas City Public Works department began a citywide litter and tent cleanup initiative to remove trash in public right-of-way areas, including the homeless camp that returned to Westport.”

Let’s be clear, the first sentence of this cruel city propaganda is equating literal trash, to people and families in order to justify their removal.

Fox4 is not alone in their linguistic brutality. Many Kansas City media outlets write with similar framing. This is a large contributor to why many people in our city continue to have merciless and dehumanizing viewpoints on people who are unhoused.

Let us take a look at the Public Works Department Statement that is being deployed to justify this violent attack;

“City code prohibits littering and depositing of personal property in public right-of-way (Sec.62-89). Litter pickup in the public right-of-way is a regular activity supported by Public Works crews that happens frequently around Kansas City. City code also prohibits tenting on property without landowner consent, which becomes a life safety concern for persons occupying public property (Sec. 50-107).”

Let’s dissect the code that is being used here;

“City code prohibits littering and depositing of personal property in public right-of-way (Sec.62-89)”. Litter pickup in the public right-of-way is a regular activity supported by Public Works crews that happens frequently around Kansas City.

Here they are dehumanizing people who live in tents by avoiding the fact they are removing humans and families and instead simply referring to objects and trash. 

“Safety and visibility for our residents and the traveling public and cleanliness of our right-of-way remains our responsibility under City Code,” Public Works Director Michael Shaw said

Is someone going to trip and fall over a person’s tent? Whose safety is being threatened by people living in public spaces? Why are you prioritizing “cleanliness” over people’s lives? All of these are questions I have for Michael Shaw. I would also like to ask him if he realizes the Department’s obsession with “cleanliness” has the potential to kill people. 

“Our goal is to keep the right-of-way clean and safe,” Shaw goes on to say. Again, “clean” and “safe” for whom technically goes unknown. But given that some houseless folks will lose their entire livelihoods and others suffer potentially-lethal weather conditions, surely our houseless comrades are not included in Shaw’s definition of safe. 

I will refrain from examining the rest as I’m sure neither you or I are eager to further comb through such underhandedly vicious rhetoric. 

All of this taking place during the same week that a cowardly and inhumane city council voted to further colonize and gentrify Westport by approving a tax break for a luxury apartment developer. 

Lux Living

Fox4 should be ashamed and so should the city. At a time when houseless coalitions like the KC Homeless Union are building power, agency and demanding resources be given rather than extracted from them – and the city and media have chosen to inflict further violence. 

All of them need to be held accountable. 

The Kansas City Defender is a startup Black-owned news organization dedicated to holding the powerful accountable through unapologetic, truth-telling. We have sharp and in-depth analysis on race, policing, housing, the environment, technology, local media propaganda and more. We are currently volunteer-based and depend on reader support to operate. Support The Kansas City Defender’s independent media here, or cashapp us at $KansasCityDefender.

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