The Kansas City Times
The Kansas City Times
KANSAS CITY, FEBRUARY 8, 1957 --- FRIDAY
FIRE HOSE DISPERSES CROWD AT WESTPORT HIGH
Hears of Fight Plans
Dr. Richard A Ball, school principal, said he had received reports throughout the morning that a fight was to take place after school. Dr. Ball called the police department at 1:30 o'clock pm. and asked to have an officer at the school. One patrol car was at the intersection when school ended at 3:05 pm. Maj. Doral L. Denison, Head of the crime prevention bureau, and Maj. Don Bishop, head of the uniform patrol division, investigated. They said the situation apparently got out of control when the teen-agers refused to obey police orders to disperse. "Every effort will be made through the principal and the teachers at Westport to see that this doesn't occur again" Dr. Ball said. "The student body needs to discipline itself so that it won't be overcome by mass agitation. The students need to recognize the importance of this." "I believe the trouble was caused by outsiders" Dr. Ball said "I think the boys with the black jackets were either from another school or were not going to school and were here looking for trouble" Dr. Ball saw one of his students throw snowballs and saw a piece of metal pipe land on top of a police car.
No Racial Issue
Dr. Ball said he does not believe that a racial issue played any part in the disturbance.
Gives Two Causes
James A. Hazlett, superintendent of schools, said that based on information he has, the incident had two causes: an unfounded rumor that a fight was to occur between some Westport students and students from another school, and the presence outside the school of some boys who were "looking for trouble".
Hundreds of Westport students (many of them just spectators) milling in the street at 39th and McGee caused traffic to be rerouted on busy 39th street for nearly an hour yesterday afternoon. It took 20 policemen and 4 firemen who turned the hose on some of the students 25 minutes to clear the intersection. Some of the students pelted the officers and firemen with pieces of concrete, stones, bits of metal and pipe and snow balls. Two firemen were struck by pieces of concrete and the wiring of a police car was ripped out. Twenty six teenagers were taken to headquarters for questioning. Officers confiscated five 3/4inch metal chains.
Police and school authorities said they believed about a dozen boys with ducktail hair cuts and wearing black jackets, none of them apparently students at Westport High School, were responsible for the incident. Those boys had gathered at the intersection in anticipation of a rumored fight that was reported to take place after school, officers learned.
Snow at Policeman
The students surrounded the first policeman to leave his patrol car and some of the youngsters began throwing snow balls at him, Dr. Ball said. Other witnesses said it was not until after the fire truck arrived that some of the students began hurling stones and other missiles. Dr. Ball, Capt. W.M. Canaday and other witnesses said there had been no fighting among the students. "The youngsters just weren't paying any attention to what the police told them," Dr. Ball said. "The students just refused to leave." The police department asked that a fire truck be sent when it became apparent that the students would not disband.
Tells of His Orders.
"My orders were simply to lay out a hose," said Capt. John Hardy of Fire Station 19. "When we started to attach the hose a group of boys in black jackets told us to pick up the hose and get out of there or they would do it for us.
"Then they started throwing snow balls and pieces of concrete at us. We turned the hose on and aimed the stream at the street. In our own defense, we raised the stream and aimed it at them, but never in full force."
The students broke, some of them running. John Felz, the fire truck driver, was struck on the jaw with a piece of concrete. Billy Phillips, a fireman, suffered a wrist bruise when hit by a stone.
The Enrollment at Westport is about 1,740 Students.
Glenn Travis, administrative assistant to the superintendent of schools, said this was the first incident of this kind at Westport. None of the 26 boys taken to headquarters for questioning was a Negro, officers said. They said they did not see any Negro students throwing missiles. Most of the boys and girls were onlookers and there were no reports of any girls taking an active part. Some of the students said that some of the boys taken in by the police were only onlookers.
All Are Released
All the boys were released, including two who are to appear at 9 o'clock tomorrow at the youth bureau with their parents for a hearing before Major Dennison. The two are Westport High school students, police said. One of them was seen damaging a patrol car, and the other is believed to be one of the instigators of the disturbance. Twenty- two of the boys taken to headquarters were Westport High students, police said. The other four were onlookers. The 26 youths are all 13 to 18 years old.
This is the official web site for the Westport High School, Class of 1957 Reunion Committee. Contact Jim Carras (email@example.com) for any comments, suggestions, corrections or recommendations.