As tensions rose in North Toledo Friday night following the fatal police shooting of an armed 25-year-old man, the city could have easily erupted into violence.
But there, in a neighborhood with angry, grieving residents giving voice to their frustrations and police lining up with reinforcements to face the growing crowd, a small act of kindness bridged the gap.
A young woman with tears streaming down her face reached for a hug. A Toledo police officer leaned forward to return the gesture. In that moment, a bit of the collective angst was relieved. A would-be divide was bridged.
And there, as tensions rose near LaGrange and Hudson streets, was Earl Mack. The former police officer and president of Toledo Buffalo Soldiers said he came to the scene to calm concerns, to talk to the grief-stricken and the angry.
Mr. Mack was one of many community and religious leaders who responded to the call from Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz to join the efforts to quell brewing unrest.
Lamar Richardson led a troubled life before he reached for his 9mm handgun as police were trying to apprehend him in connection with a string of armed robberies. His was the second officer-involved shooting death in a week in Toledo, adding to the city’s anxiety.
There are still too many neighborhoods in Toledo where residents feel unjustly targeted and do not trust police.
Chief George Kral, to his great credit, has made a priority of building better relationships between these neighborhoods and the police who serve them — hosting coffee with cops events, turning up at Block Watch meetings, and even mingling with protesters outside a federal courthouse when he represented Toledo as a defendant in a racial-profiling lawsuit.
Also to Chief Kral’s credit, Toledo released the dashboard camera footage of Friday’s shooting within hours of the incident. That kind of transparency matters. And showing the community the facts of the case goes a long way to quashing rumors and misinformation.
In a speech Monday to the Toledo Rotary Club, Mr. Kapszukiewicz said the initial evidence is that police acted properly, but that’s not the end of the story in parts of the community where “there is a lot of pain.”
“The anger...is real — even if police followed every procedure by the book,” he said. The lesson: “we have to talk to each other.”
Mr. Kapszukiewicz and Chief Kral called Friday’s shooting a tragedy — one that could have easily been compounded by violence in the community.
Instead, many true leaders in Toledo — some whose names are familiar and some who worked quietly in their neighborhoods — succeeded in steering the city another way last weekend.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.