Sunday, May 27, 2018
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Toledo’s profiles in courage...

In defending their neighborhood, Julie Mason and Janet Goforth should inspire all of us

Crime isn’t just a police problem; it’s a community problem. No number of cops can make a neighborhood safe, or livable, without the cooperation, will, and heart of the people who live there.

The Toledo Police Department, like most other urban law enforcement agencies, must do more to gain the community’s trust and earn its help. But residents also must do their part, even if it means taking a risky stand against those who would terrorize the blocks they live on.

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Anyone looking for a profile in courage could find one in a recent Blade article that provided another uplifting example of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. It should inspire all of us.

An East Toledo woman, threatened for her part in identifying a suspect in the shooting of a stray dog last month, continued to speak out even after her home was shot up. Julie Mason, who lives on Clark Street, told Toledo police that Marcus Crawford, 26, of Toledo, might have shot a black-and-tan German shepherd on March 24. Warrants were issued for Mr. Crawford’s arrest.

The friendly stray dog, now called June, was adopted by neighbors after it was dumped there. It was shot in the right shoulder while resting on a porch.

After hearing the shot and the dog’s screams, Ms. Mason saw Mr. Crawford walking past, pocketing a gun. Two days later, she said she got a phone call from the suspect’s cousin, Gary Crawford, 35. Ms. Mason said he threatened to shoot up the house and “take care of” her.

The next morning, bullets burst through the living-room window and front door as Ms. Mason and her former mother-in-law, Janet Goforth, sat in the living room. One bullet pierced the front door, living-room wall, and kitchen cabinet before it lodged in a bathroom wall at the back of the house.

Let’s be clear: Marcus Crawford and Gary Crawford are innocent until proven guilty. But someone shot the dog, and someone shot up the house.

What are people who shoot resting dogs and fire indiscriminately into a home, potentially maiming or killing babies and young children? It’s an easy question to answer: punks and cowards.

But even cowards and punks are dangerous with guns. Ms. Mason and Ms. Goforth don’t live in a gated community or a sequestered suburb.

Nor, probably, are they able to pick up and move. So they took a stand, even permitting their stories and photos to run in a newspaper.

The pair reported more threats, anonymous calls, and daily gunfire near their home. They suspect their vehicles have been tampered with.

The women sleep in shifts — when they can sleep at all — and no longer leave the house alone. Ms. Mason won’t let anyone sit by the living-room window, fearing another attack.

No person in Toledo — or anywhere else — should have to live like that. But on Clark Street in East Toledo, whoever fired into the house or shot a resting dog now has reason to fear and think twice before acting again.

In defending their neighborhood and reporting an injustice, Julie Mason and Janet Goforth should inspire all of us to make our communities safer.

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