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Published: Saturday, 4/27/2013

ANTI-VIOLENCE EFFORTS

Community initiative targets gang members

Police, neighbors speak at courthouse

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

On the projection screen in front of nearly three dozen gang members, Toledo police Detective Bill Noon showed pictures of central-city gang members facing state and federal charges.

The message: You don’t want to be these people.

The pictures were mugshots, personal pictures taken from various members’ Facebook pages, and surveillance pictures taken by the detective.

“[They] didn’t know I was there,” the detective said. “You won’t know I’m there.”

The message was delivered to the gang members at the third meeting of the Toledo Community Initiative to Reduce Violence, hosted in the Lucas County Courthouse on Friday afternoon.

The 34 men there — eight were absent and bench warrants were issued — were told to stop the violence and to pass the message to their friends and families.

The year-old initiative is meant to reduce gang-related shootings by directly addressing people who might be involved. The men are given options: Stop shooting and decide to change your life for the better or continue and become the focus of “unprecedented” law enforcement attention.

Police Chief Derrick Diggs and Capt. Brad Weis told the men that local, state, and federal officials were ready to launch investigations into entire gangs and filing charges against anyone for anything. Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates said she would follow through.

Service providers in the community are ready too. They have access to health services, programs to help people earn their graduate-equivalency degree or further their education, and job training.

Community members, always the most intense portion of the 90-minute meetings, are the “moral voice.”

Leslie Robinson and his wife were at a music festival in Cincinnati in 2005 when a relative called to ask if they had heard the news.

They had not.

Their only son, Dionious Robinson, 20, was shot the night before and didn’t survive.

“I need to know there is a difference being made so that I can survive,” Mr. Robinson told the men.

More information about the initiative is available at www.facebook.com/TCIRV.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com, 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.



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