I have lived in the Stickney area for the better part of my life - my family still lives there. The truth is that the Toledo police have not been responsive in the last four years to the situation we have with gangs and marauding youth in our streets.
Roving gangs of young people can be seen lining Lagrange Street and Stickney Avenue far into the night, harassing innocent citizens and terrorizing older people in their homes. I know of older ladies who have called the police after they have seen gang members breaking into their homes and are told if the police do not see or catch them, there's nothing they can do.
I watched the police stand around and let this group of hoodlums destroy property and terrorize the neighborhood. If they had been more responsive to the neighborhoods' complaints in the first place and enforced the existing laws (including the curfew - what happened to that?) with a real viable gang task force presence, this would never have happened. And, for the record, I am black. Look closely at the group of hoods who invaded this neighborhood. They were black, white, and Hispanic, both male and female. This isn't a race issue - it's a gang crime issue.
None of the hard-working taxpaying citizens in this area is surprised by this. Unlike Chief Michael Navarre and the city administration who have their heads in the sand, we know that Toledo has a real and serious problem with youth gangs.
Our safety forces need to enforce the laws, maintain order and make sure that we are all safe in our neighborhoods. Ordinary citizens can just stand on their porches or drive down their streets and easily find gang members. Why don't the police know where they are?
I hope the neo-Nazis do not return. As a resident of Bronson Avenue, I can honestly say the area really wasn't that bad. Sometimes neighbors don't get along. That's normal. You get that everywhere. It doesn't matter where the people live or what color they are.
As for the gangs, they are in the area, but so are drugs, prostitution, and motorcycle "gangs."
Do you see it everywhere? No. But we know it is there. That's why we have things like the Weed and Seed program and Neighborhood Watch. All interested residents are welcome and encouraged to join in the efforts to keep our neighborhoods good places to live. But we as residents were doing this all on our own without regard to color and without the "assistance" of the neo-Nazis.
Before the arrival of these people, I could walk to the 7-Eleven on Lagrange Street and not really be bothered. The biggest "trouble" was walking by the bar. Now all the residents of Bronson are afraid to walk down the street; color doesn't matter.
Until Saturday we would get the occasional stereo-booming car driving down the street and usually they were going to visit friends or family living on the street; now we have several a night and the speed limit usually doesn't matter too much to them.
We have children here and old people and young. We don't need or want the "assistance" of these hate-mongers in our neighborhoods. It's amazing what 24 ignorant people looking for the national spotlight can do to ruin a good neighborhood. I know everyone has the right to free speech, but if they come to the area again I am going to close my sidewalk to them. They are not welcome here.
I was shocked to hear on the BBC of the anti-Nazi riot in North Toledo. I am an ex-Toledoan now living in France. Later I saw a brief video as well. I accessed The Blade online to read the account of the events. It sounds like a tale that will take a little while to unfold. I was amazed that a neo-Nazi group from another community in another state was ever given permission to demonstrate in Toledo in the first place. I don't understand how anyone could have foreseen any other outcome than the events which took place.
The history of extremist movements worldwide has always followed the philosophy of provocation. They provoke and then claim to be the persecuted ones. This generates propaganda to fuel the hate on which they feed.
Whatever occurred happened without logic and without sanity. I can tell you after hearing the news on BBC Radio, watching it on BBC World, CNN Europe, and TF1 and Canal 2 French News, Toledo really doesn't look very good at all to the rest of the world.
Patrick Hart Howe
I imagine by now a number of the locals are quietly saying to themselves "Thank God I don't live there (and some can even add 'anymore')." These are the folks who live in the fringe parts of Toledo - where they can make sure their kids can go to Washington Local schools, Sylvania, or Maumeecity schools.
Perhaps it's time to let these people actually see their fellow citizens - the ones who clean their bathrooms, run the gas stations, make their fast food, and manage the little offices.
Perhaps it's time to set up marches into those affluent neighborhoods because it's high time that the marginalized, the dispossessed, and working poor be given a chance to carry a message to the so-called "haves": It's time to come together to make this city work as one.
Before the North Toledo neighborhood where the riot took place was called Polish Village, it was the area where the first Jewish immigrants to Toledo settled. My great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents lived within blocks of where the rioting took place. One of Toledo's original Orthodox Jewish congregations (the building is now a church) is only a few hundred yards from where the worst of the riot took place. My great-grandparents lived in the area until the late 1960s; other of Toledo's Jewish pioneers remained there into the 1980s.
Before I became a not-for-profit professional, I and my family operated a scrap iron and metal processing facility located in North Toledo (the business is still there today). In my 25 years there (ending in 2003) and over the almost 90 years that the business has been located on Lagrange Street, we never, ever, had a problem with gangs in what is probably the most integrated neighborhood in Toledo. There are descendants of Polish immigrants, blacks, Latinos, working class people of all descriptions, and a variety of commercial businesses all coexisting within a few blocks of one another.
What happened in North Toledo is indicative of two things: One, the continued decline of industrial America and the resulting effect on a poorly educated generation of inner city youth (blacks, whites, and Latinos) and two, that the hard work of many faith- and community-based organizations to promote understanding, and to serve those who are underserved by government and educational institutions, can be completely undermined in only a few hours by the actions of a few nut-balls who describe themselves as neo-Nazis.
Joel S. Beren
United Jewish Council
of Greater Toledo
It is very sad that the Northwest Ohio Rib-Off is moving to the Lucas County Recreation Center just to be comparable to similar events across the nation. Charging more in admission and an extra cost for a tailgating "pre-party" will only keep the crowds away and not attract new business.
I firmly believe that Mayor Ford's proposal to keep the event downtown was a very good idea and should have been looked at further before a final decision.
North Erie Street
The nomination of "no-judicial-experience" Harriet Miers is a slap in the face for every state Supreme Court justice in every state of the union, let alone the current Supreme Court justices.