One of the most disturbing aspects of the North Toledo riot for me was the age of many of the protesters. In this photo (once again by the mighty Isis) a very young man leads the charge back up Mulberry Street after the first wave of teargas cannisters and flash-bang devices had been fired.
This fearless-looking boy of perhaps 10 years of age was not intimidated by the presence of police in riot gear, nor of the SWAT team in the front of the police forces. I am momentarily setting aside the issue of why this child was present at the riot; I do not know his circumstances, so far be it from me to comment on his family situation.
Why, though, would this young man have such conviction that his path lay in seeking direct conflict with Toledo Police? What events in this child's life could cause such distrust of the police that he would seek this type of confrontation?
There are complex social issues at play here - pervasive poverty, declining economic opportunity, and struggling parents, to name just a few - influencing the life of this child, and simplistic "lock 'em up" responses do nothing to improve the conditions that helped shape the life of our young friend.
Until we stop ignoring neighborhoods like LaGrinka, scenes like this will become all the more common. Perhaps, if nothing else, the North Toledo riot on October 15 will force us to take a hard look at what needs to be done in American cities.
Photo copyright 2005, Isis.