Saturday, Jul 23, 2016
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A neighbors' quarrel behind neo-Nazi march

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Amelia Gray, on her Bronson Avenue porch with daughter Karreen, says, 'We don't even know what the dispute is about.'


Toledo police said the dispute between a black woman and a white man in the north end started over a fence.

Amelia Gray said it began when she bumped her neighbor's vehicle while backing out of her Bronson Avenue driveway.

Her neighbor, Tom Szych, said it started with her garbage in the alley.

Ms. Gray's landlord, who formerly lived in that house, said he had disputes with Mr. Szych for 11 years.

A half-dozen crime reports since July indicate the current feud has included accusations by both sides of assault, menacing, and burglary.


Above, Amelia Gray and her family see this view of Bronson Avenue from their porch. Crime reports since July reflect accusations by the neighbors of assault, menacing, and burglary.


A couple across the street had a more simple explanation: neighbors who just don't get along.

No matter what the cause, the situation has attracted the attention of a neo-Nazi group, which plans to hold a rally in North Toledo.

One to two dozen uniformed members of the National Socialist Movement are expected at the rally, organized by the group's Toledo-area unit.

A number of people outside the Toledo area have expressed an interest in showing solidarity with the group, and several dozen outside participants are expected, movement spokesman Bill White said in an e-mail.

Local movement members became aware of Mr. Szych's problems, which include numerous complaints to police about one of two black gangs in the neighborhood.

Mr. White said the group recently encouraged its local units to be more active. The Toledo-area unit decided several months ago to organize a local event to address the issue of black crime and to bring National Socialists from Toledo and the surrounding area in Ohio and Michigan to demonstrate in favor of their cause.


Tom Szych's problems include a number of complaints to police about one of two black gangs in the neighborhood. His family says they aren't racists, and did not initiate contact with a Neo-Nazi group.


Mr. Szych and his relatives are not members of the movement and did not initiate the decision to hold the event, Mr. White said.

The Szych family said they did not contact the group and are not racists.

Ms. Gray said Mr. Szych, with whom she is in mediation, has said he doesn't like blacks. He denies the claim.

"We don't even know what the dispute is about," Ms. Gray said. "I was so stressed out, I would cry every night."

John Szych, the family patriarch, said someone came to his house about a month ago, talked with him about the gang problem, and then identified himself as being with the movement.

"I threw him off my porch," he said. "I told him up front I did not like his philosophy, that I did not like [him], and that he could leave."

Mr. White said the movement was founded in 1974 as a successor to the American Nazi Party organization and is the largest, most active National Socialist group in the country.

Police Chief Mike Navarre said local officials should learn of the rally route today. He said people from four or five states are expected to walk on the sidewalk.

The chief said authorities are encouraging other groups not to protest the rally.

"That's exactly what this group wants. If they come here and don't get the attention they are seeking, then their mission is failed," he said.

The chief said a peace rally, to be held at the same time in a different location, is being discussed by community members.

Police are working with the FBI and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation to make plans for contingencies depending on the number of people who attend the rally. City officers, many working overtime, Lucas County sheriff's deputies, and FBI agents will be on hand.

But those at heart of one of the issues bringing the group to town probably won't be.

Mr. Szych, a volunteer at Leverette Junior High School and PTO president, said he is scheduled to take a class to obtain his permanent permit to carry a concealed weapon.

He bought a gun, now held by police for safekeeping after he allegedly waved it at children, for protection.

Ms. Gray, who works full-time and cares for her five children and her niece, plans to ignore the group.

"They're trying to make us blacks look like we are bad," she said. "In both races, we've got good and bad."

Contact Christina Hall at

or 419-724-6007.

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