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Prosecutor passes on charging those accused of vandalizing statue

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    Kansas City, MO (KCTV) — Jackson County prosecutors decided not to file state charges against two men suspected of vandalizing an Andrew Jackson statue outside of the Jackson County Courthouse. It is possible the men could still be charged in municipal court.

Right now, the graffitied Andrew Jackson statue is covered by a very large tarp that is secured by sandbags at the base. The future of this is statue is unclear.

On Thursday, police say two 25-year-old white men spray painted “slave owner” and “KKKCPD” along with profanity on the statue.

We’ve requested video surveillance but have not received a copy because the case remains under investigation.

We asked community members for their reaction on Friday.

“It’s okay to be mad but it is not okay to do bad things when you are angry,” Isabelle Custis said.

“They did it for a purpose,” Keyvonté Gilland-Walker said.

Gilland-Walker and Custis both said they understand why people would oppose a statue of Jackson, who was a slave owner, but don’t support vandalizing statues and other forms of art.

According to the White House Historical Association, Jackson “ordered harsh, even brutal, punishment for enslaved people who disobeyed orders.” Jackson also signed The Indian Removal Act. The United States government then forcibly moved the Cherokees west and approximately 4,000 Cherokees died during the forced march.

“If we want to make a difference, we have to figure out a different way to get our point across,” Custis said.

On Friday morning, the Kansas City police filed for a search warrant to search a cell phone and car believed to be connected to the vandalism suspects. However, Jackson County prosecutors denied the search warrant request because they are not pursuing a state-level case. The suspects were then released.

KCTV5 News asked for an on-camera interview but instead received a written statement from a spokesperson for the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office that said in part: “Several prosecutors were involved in advising police that we did not believe this was a state-level case. Initially, police didn’t give a damage amount. We told them this should go to the municipal prosecutor. We hope they took the case there.”

The spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office also said, “If County Executive Frank White’s call for the statue to be torn down is acted on, estimating a damage amount is difficult. Might repairs never be made?”

According to police, officers did provide an initial damage estimate of $2,000 with an additional $1,000 to cover the cost of covering the statue via phone call to the on-call prosecutor last night. We asked the prosecutor’s office about that. A spokesperson said the estimate was not included in initial documents.

“Even if they did it for a good reason, out of anger and high frustration, if you break the law, you break the law,” Custis said. “Nobody is above the law.”

The men could still be charged in municipal court. At last check, the case was not yet submitted to municipal prosecutors. Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. announced yesterday he plans to recommend on Monday that Jackson County remove two Andrew Jackson statues in the county, including the now vandalized statue. White will ask the county legislature to form a special committee to hold public hearings to discuss possible removal.

KCTV5 News stopped by listed addresses for the two suspects but did not reach them for comment.

We also asked Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. for an on-camera interview. A spokesperson for White directed us to his previous written statement.

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