Hit licks: to make a lot of money in a short amount of time – oftentimes a robbery.
Hustle: a way of making money; could mean to sell drugs.
I'd in: to be initiated into a gang; oftentimes involves being beaten.
Jumped: a beating, sometimes part of an initiation.
Nation: refers to national gangs like the Bloods, Crips, and Folks.
Neutron: someone who is not in a gang; a neutral person.
Put in work: anything to earn money or respect.
Sexed in: a female who wants to join a gang having sex with one or more current gang members in order to be admitted.
Snitch: someone who talks about criminal activity or shares information about a gang to someone outside the gang.
White West: a large part of West Toledo including most of the Washington Local School District.
DAY 1: Growing Danger
Gangs exact bloody toll on Toledo: (4/28/13)
When he was 8 years old, he wanted to belong.
Other boys his age were joining soccer teams, studying for vocabulary tests. In bed by 9 o’clock.
This boy, who was raised by his mother in Toledo’s south end, was instead bracing for the first punch.
The jump-in lasted 30 minutes. Six boys, about his age, jumped him. Hit him, kicked him. Then two “older homies” — boys about 15 — had their turn. The boy ended up inside a trash can.
“I couldn’t get mad at the situation — I put myself through that. I was sore for, like, three or four days, and after that I was cool,” he said, recalling his initiation to the Manor Boyz.
In order to hear and share this man’s story, The Blade agreed to not use his name or nickname. Identifying him, he said, could put him and his family in danger if anyone believed he’s a snitch.
Although he said that, even at 8 years old, he knew what joining the gang would mean, his initiation was only the beginning: shot at 12; in prison at 13; stabbed at 17; and convicted of a felony at 21.
Now, being 22 years old seems like a miracle. READ FULL STORY HERE
DAY ONE PHOTO GALLERIES
SOCIAL MEDIA: Join the conversation about #toledogangs to appear on our Storify page.
VIDEOS: Battle Lines: Toledo Gangs
Lil Heads member says gang is really a family: (4/28/13) “Maniac” has one goal in mind: spread the motto of his organization. “I’m from Smith Park. I’m known as a Lil Head; in Toledo we considered a gang, but, really, we a family,” he said. Some of them are actually family members — brothers, cousins. A lot of them are friends who grew up together and, over the years, have become close enough to call one another brothers or cousins.
Rapper focuses on need to end strife in ‘My City’: (4/28/13) Christopher Belton wants to make Toledo a better place to live. “It’s where I was born and raised,” said the 24-year-old musician whose stage name is Jimmy Paid. “There’s a lot of people who just want to get away from the city because they say there’s nothing here. … Me and my brother Aaron, we talk a lot, so it’s like we want to bring stuff to Toledo. Like, making parks for kids where they can play. Having businesses where people can go to, keep the money circulating in the city … I just want to do something good since it’s where I’m from.” Much of the frustration and desire to elevate the city can be heard on a song Mr. Belton wrote, “My City,” to accompany The Blade’s series on gangs and gang culture in Toledo.
VIDEO: 'My City'
A NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER: On gang map, Mayor Bell ignores the public's right to know
RELATED ARTICLE: Blade suit tries to pry gang map from city
DAY 2: Father factor
As fathers falter, gangs fill the void: (4/29/13) Mitchell Moore says he should be dead. Selling drugs, stealing cars. Shooting at people, being shot at. Taunting rival gang members. Moore survived the streets. He served his time in prison. He wants his experiences to inspire his children to be better, not be a how-to guide for a life in the system.“I don’t know how I’m alive. I think it been because a lot of my closest friends is dead,” said Moore, now 44. “It’s just like I’m next.” “I’m tired of seeing my kids in jail. Getting murdered,” he said. “ … I used to tell them all the stuff I did and went through wasn’t right. … I went to prison so they wouldn’t have to go.”
Day Two photo galleries:
VIDEO: From fathers to dads
Female gang member ponders life beyond the street: (4/29/13) For as long as she can remember, “Kid,” a 21-year-old gang member, has wanted to study criminal justice and work as a crime-scene investigator. Not the typical career choice for someone who neither likes nor trusts the police. “I never thought about it like that,” she said. “I just thought about what I wanted to do. … I ain’t got to make friends to be no crime-scene investigator. I ain’t got to be their friends.” Chances are Kid wouldn’t be their friend anyway. Friends, she said, aren’t real and cannot be trusted. Neither can family. “Friends, they backstabbers,” said Kid, a member of XBlocc, during an interview at the Lucas County Correctional Treatment Facility. “… I have hood homies. I got goons. I don’t got friends. Call nobody my friends. Ain’t nobody your friend.”
DAY 3: Intervention efforts
Toledoans take steps to steer youngsters away from gangs: (4/30/13) “You can have a single mom that’s raising her kids, and that’s fine in the home, but it’s different when they go out on the streets,” said Shawn Mahone, founder of Young Men and Women for Change, a “dose-of-reality” program. “Whatever they have to do to survive out there on the streets, that’s what they’re going to do. By any means. If that means they have to rob, steal, unfortunately kill, that’s what they’re going to do.” Mr. Mahone, 44, a Toledo native, founded his boot camp seven years ago after leaving a high-paying corporate sales job. He knew what it was like to be a kid in a tough neighborhood. When he was growing up on Oakwood Avenue in the 1980s, it was known as Cokewood; drug trafficking and usage was “at an all-time high,” he said.
VIDEO: Breaking the Cycle
Mayor Bell calls Blade series 'irresponsible': (4/30/13) Toledo Mayor Mike Bell blasted a four-day Blade series on gangs as “irresponsible journalism” and said it could hinder the city’s economic rebound and efforts to attract investors. The mayor refused again on Monday to release a map created by the police department that shows where gangs in Toledo operate. “No position has changed based on anything from the information The Blade has released,” Mr. Bell said. “[The map] is an active investigation based on being able to apprehend people who are doing wrong things.
DAY 4: Gangs elsewhere
Toledo's gangs not very different from others: (5/1/13) Last year, numerous gang members were convicted on various charges, including participating in a criminal gang, effectively taking gangs off the police department’s watch list for the first time in more than a decade, Sandusky police Chief John Orzech said. Sandusky’s gangs — there were only really a few, the chief said — were not much different than Toledo’s and gangs in other cities around the state. The National Gang Center reported that, in 2011, an estimated 29,900 gangs existed in the United States, fewer than the 30,800 in 1996. Many are loosely organized, identifying themselves by streets or neighborhoods.
Refuting mayor, Diggs states is's 'ludicrous' to deny gangs in Toledo: (5/1/13) A day after Toledo Mayor Mike Bell told The Blade that Toledo doesn’t have a gang problem, the city’s police chief, Derrick Diggs, said in a radio interview that it would be “ludicrous” to say there is no gang problem in the city. “We’re a city of 300,000 people. For me to sit here and tell you we don’t have problems with gangs would be ludicrous. Gang problems are in every major city in the United States,” Chief Diggs said in a live interview on WSPD-AM, 1370 on Tuesday. He went on: “I would like to believe, and I strongly believe, that our problem with gangs is no worse — probably even a lot better — than comparable cities our size.” Mr. Bell, in an interview with The Blade on Monday, at first said Toledo does not have a gang problem but clarified that it is “no different than any other metropolitan city."
Follow up: Articles and columns
Toddlers again caught in the crossfire at Greenbelt Place Apartments: (5/5/13) The Greenbelt apartments, 806 Cherry St., oftentimes still called the Cherry Wood apartments, are claimed by a Crips-affiliated gang — the Cherry Woodz. The complex is just blocks away from territory claimed by three Bloods-affiliated gangs — the Manor Boyz, Page Boy Bloods, and the Bagdad Boyz. The 176-unit, project-based Section 8 apartment complex in North Toledo has a history of gangs, violence, and overall tenant dissatisfaction. Residents have complained about safety concerns, cockroaches, bedbugs, and unresponsive management. The property is owned by Hampstead Cherrywood Partners LP and is managed by California-based Intercoastal Financial.
Gangs in Toledo: Where do we go from here?:(5/5/13) Toledoans are talking, and thinking, about The Blade’s gang series — Battle lines: Gangs of Toledo. It’s a stunning accomplishment. The sheer amount of work — writing, filming, and legwork — done by Taylor Dungjen and Amy E. Voigt, as well as by the Blade’s newsroom editors and art staff knocks me out. What a commitment — to serious journalism and to the community. At a time when most newspapers are pulling back from the big investigative story and divesting in community journalism, this newspaper told a vitally important story, and told the truth, without fear or favor. The question is: What now? What do we talk about now; how do we have that conversation; and what action should be taken?
For city’s gangs, songs a deadly battle cry: (5/26/13) Another young black man dead, allegedly at the hands of another young black man. And for what? Police and gang sources said it was about a song. A 3-minute, 32-second gang song that Mr. Dunbar had nothing to do with. Wooty woo la la la.
Toledo gang music: Warning, the language and content of these songs might be considered offensive.
About the series:
How 2 Blade staffers overcame obstacles to cover Toledo's gangs: (4/28/13) The first days were the worst. It was freezing, and I couldn't find my gloves. There was snow on the ground, and nobody was interested in helping Blade photographer Amy E. Voigt and me put together a map of gang territories in Toledo. East Toledo seemed like a logical place to start. We walked around the Weiler Homes, stopping residents to ask if they knew anything about gangs in the area. Silence. We learned later that the silence was probably more about survival than not wanting to cooperate. No snitching.