In Response to Questions Regarding May 9th Event
The Jewish Community Foundation and the Truman Library Institute co-sponsored a lecture featuring Ambassador Dennis Ross on May 9, 2016 for which the Kansas City Public Library served as the venue. The event included a live question-and-answer segment. The first questioner gave a statement and had multiple questions for the Ambassador which were answered, after which the Ambassador indicated that he wished to move on to address the questions of others waiting their turn. The questioner continued to talk over the Ambassador, preventing others from speaking. This began a sequence of events that resulted in the arrests of the questioner and a library employee by local law enforcement. After their departure from the lecture hall, the question-and-answer segment resumed and continued for some time, providing many others the opportunity to be heard and to engage with the speaker.
Although the Jewish Community Foundation was not a party to the court proceedings, it is our understanding that the Kansas City Police Officers believed that the individuals arrested had violated Municipal ordinances, which were their duty to enforce. While we respect the decision of the Court, the Foundation will continue to prioritize safety and to insist on civility in discourse and respect for others at all events in which it takes a leadership role.
It is unfortunate that the publicity surrounding this incident has overshadowed a program that was extremely well-received by the overwhelming majority of those who participated. As it has for nearly sixty years, the Foundation will continue to provide generous support to effective charitable organizations and programs and to make a positive difference in the lives of millions of people in Kansas City, throughout the country, and indeed, the world.