Courts & Crime

Court closes Green Duck Lounge, scene of notorious Kansas City murder

KANSAS CITY — A historic Kansas City tavern that was the scene of one of the area’s most infamous killings was shut down Friday as a “public nuisance.”

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced the legal action while standing in front of the Green Duck Lounge at 26th Street and Prospect Avenue.

Repeated instances of violent crime and illegal drug activity in and near the business prompted her to seek a court order to have it shuttered for as long as a year, Baker said.

“These actions are absolutely necessary to protect the hard-working citizens in this community who for too many years have been plagued by the drugs and violence associated with the Green Duck,” said Baker, who plans to work with owner James Townsend to fix the problems.

Townsend, who said he bought the property 20 years ago, questioned why it was being singled out.

“This isn’t fair,” he said. “Things like that happen everywhere.”

Kenneth Scott, who owns a nearby barbershop, said the closing could hurt his business.

In 1970, a gunman killed civil rights leader Leon Jordan outside the Green Duck, which Jordan owned.

Shutting this bar down is not going to stop crime in this area,” said Erik Stafford, who operates a black history tour in Kansas City that includes the Green Duck as a stop.

More recently, in late September, two men were shot to death across the street.

Baker cited that incident, as well as drug transactions, as reasons to close the bar.

Since May, Kansas City police have been called to the immediate area 19 times because of violent crime and have received 21 complaints of illegal drug activity. Undercover officers reported drug buys in the tavern Oct. 24 and 25, according to court documents.

Authorities served a search warrant on the lounge last week, and city codes enforcers have cited it for health violations and safety hazards.

Stafford, the tour operator, said he hoped that the building won’t be torn down. “It is historically significant,” he said.

The killing of Jordan, co-founder of Freedom Inc., went unsolved until this year. Kansas City police, who reopened the case last year, revealed in June that Jordan had been killed by organized crime figures. The alleged mastermind and others involved have died.

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