Thank you for your April 28-May 1 series “Battle Lines: Gangs of Toledo” and Blade Associate Editor Keith C. Burris’ May 5 commentary, “Where do we go from here?”. Your staff members did an excellent job of reporting and a courageous job of investigating.
They uncovered information the public needs to know to join the effort to stop violence and develop social, educational, and religious programs to tackle the underlying problems that lead to violence.
I was dismayed that Toledo Mayor Mike Bell criticized the series as “irresponsible journalism,” when it’s just the opposite. I can understand why he may be reluctant to make public his map of gangs’ territories to protect his sources.
I doubt that many parents are more fearful for their children’s safety than they were before. We already knew the gangs were out there. Now we know their names and the rough boundaries of their turf.
I hope the Toledo Police Department will seriously consider David Kennedy’s “ceasefire” strategy or something like it, as Mr. Burris suggested. I hope Toledo City Council will develop a comprehensive, community-wide youth ministry to deal with the poverty, racism, unemployment, family dysfunction, and other social, educational, and spiritual problems that produce conflict.
■ Retired judge praises series
Congratulations and thank you to the publisher, editors, and reporters of The Blade for your excellent and in-depth coverage.
Gangs are not new in Toledo, as the articles pointed out. But I have never seen such a comprehensive report on who they are, where they are, and how they operate.
I was particularly impressed with the article about absent fathers. How many young boys stood before me, angry, frustrated, knowing they were going to serve time, and would blare out: “But judge, I never had a dad.” Others may not know, but they know dads are important.
Our kids and our community deserve better. Let the conversation begin.
Glen Ellyn Drive
Editor’s note: The writer is a retired Lucas County Juvenile Court judge.
■ ‘Battle Lines’ was good journalism
I congratulate The Blade on the outstanding series about Toledo gangs. This series is an exemplary example of what a vibrant, independent free press is all about.
Your criticism of Toledo Mayor Mike Bell and his lack of cooperation in this series is off the mark. I personally like Mayor Bell and think he is good for Toledo.
That said, it is not the role of The Blade or any other newspaper to report what our political cadres want us to know. Your role is to report facts independent of what our elected officials think we need to know.
The series is the stuff of a Pulitzer Prize. Thank you for a job well done.
Oak Harbor, Ohio
■ Exposing gangs of Toledo lauded
Mayor Bell should be proud of the young women who reported in word and picture the problem of Toledo gang activity that will not go away by denial. They both showed courage, skill, and compassion.
You should be proud of Shawn Mahone, Sr., who founded Young Men and Women for Change and is striving to save lives. I hope that the United Way is supporting this organization and others like it.
If I were choosing a move to a community, I would choose one that is taking action to expose, help, and prevent such a problem.
We should be proud of the young men and women who are trying to stay out of trouble and praying for them, as well as those who are not or cannot do so.
■ Program strives to help chidren
Kids Unlimited is a comprehensive central-city program that addresses the issues your series graphically described: gangs, drugs, teenage pregnancy, and low high school graduation rates. I support Kids Unlimited as a member of its board of directors because the program is working.
It is imperative that we give central-Toledo children positive alternatives. At Kids Unlimited, children are in a safe, positive after-school environment daily. We are seeing them grow academically and socially. Early after-school help is a major part of the solution.
There is a critical need to expand the number of children who are enrolled in the program from Monday through Friday.
Thousands of children are eager to have a good learning environment. The response of those children already in the program is amazingly positive.