Oct 22, 2005

A Community Tries To Move Forward

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US House Representative Marcy Kaptur today sponsored a "listening session" for local residents to vent their frustrations in the aftermath of the North Toledo riot. Approxiamtely 150 residents met with most of the area's elected officials in attempt to create better communication and help heal wounds opened by last week's violence.

I arrived a little late, having convinced myself that the meeting was at the Zablocki Center. In typical historymike fashion, I managed to have my cell phone go off, smack my head on a rack of folding chairs, and figure out that my 256K chip was not in my camera. I should be awarded the "most absent-minded media geek" award next year.

Alas, I managed to snap a few pictures with the internal memory.

Paticipants, who merely had to wait in line for 2 minutes to address the gathering, expressed many diverse opinions on the reasons for the riot and what the community needs to do to get past the violence of October 15. I did not see, however, any of the groundswell of support that NSM spokesperson Bill White claims exists in Toledo.

One remarkable feature of the meeting: there was no uniformed police presence in the hall. There were a half-dozen uniformed officers milling about outside, but I think the idea to keep the police outside was brilliant. People seemed to have no reluctance to let loose with their frustrations.

Many in the crowd felt the media shared some responsibility for the negative coverage of the riot. Others were angry that the city allowed the march to be held in a residential neighborhood. Quite a few residents were also angry that the NSM rally was held on the grounds of a public school.

A fiery Marcy Kaptur took aim at what she called "outright racism" of some right-wing radio hosts who belittled her efforts at this session.

"It's all over the racist media of this country," she said. "They called me a Pollyanna politician who was not tough."

A number of speakers discussed the poor economic conditions in North Toledo as a contributing factor, as well as the dearth of positive alternatives to joining gangs for young people that exist in the area.

Mayor Ford spoke last, after politely listening to some blistering criticism.

"Whatever we think of this particular group (NSM), they have a constitutional right to free speech," he said. "The first amendement is pretty clear-cut; what might be hate speech to you and I should probably have the most protection."

Ford reminded the audience that the civil rights struggles in the 1950s and 1960s relied heavily upon the First Amendment.
Left: Joshua Bey with Rep. Marcy Kaptur

The session closed with a stirring rendtition of "America the Beautiful" by Toledoan Joshua Bey. As Bey's resplendent tenor began to echo in the room, the crowd joined in; for a moment, even this oft-cynical correspondent felt hope that the divisiveness of October 15 can be bridged.

12 comments:

Jr said...

"Many in the crowd felt the media shared some responsibility for the negative coverage of the riot."

I'll never understand that viewpoint. The media simply covered the topic before and after the riot. The Nazis and the rioters were negative, not the media.

I love what Ford said about free speech. He should have also spoke about freedom of the press.

"A fiery Marcy Kaptur took aim at what she called "outright racism" of some right-wing radio hosts who belittled her efforts at this session."

What is that all about? I thought the gathering was about the neighborhood not about Kaptur. Ford was in the middle of it last Saturday and was getting threatened. I'd say he's the only politician worthy of complaing about being attacked by someone. Does Kaptur visit Toledo when major businesses leave the city?

Frank said...

Nice to see you today HM - I arrived about 15 minutes late myself. You just missed a very passionate north ender named Mike Rose who basically demanded more opportunities for young people. He was admanant stepping up efforts for kids 13 and under.

I also was impressed by the young woman who, after her 3 minutes was up, didnt miss a beat and asked if she could get back in line to have the chance to speak again. Her point was, though she didnt use these words, was "restorative justice." She thought it would be better to have the young people who committed crimes last weekend do meaningful, monitored community service in the neighborhood. "You tend not to destroy that which you help create."

As an aside, my wife and I were at International Park for the City's Pumpkinarama event when I got a call Frank, there are two buses at Front & Consaul - and they have German writing on them! Great, the damn fools picked my old neighborhood to "surprise" Toledo. Bad move. So I excused myself and drove up Front Street. Didnt see anyone storming Tony Packos besides tourists. A wedding at St. Stephens. Kept driving past the Birmingham VFW Post and on the right, sure enough, were two big school buses with foreign words on the back.

Uh oh. Wait. That's not German, that's French. Those aren't Nazi's, they look like co-eds. Quebec plates.

This must have been what it was like during WWII when my grandfather was really kicking some fascist ass. Everyone on edge back home.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Pollyanna pops into town whenever political can be harvested...

Her relevance seems to be fading.

Her political attacks are shopworn.

Good to see all of the people without need for the police.

historymike said...

jr:

Some feel that the media turned this into something it might not have been otherwise.

The flip side - would New Orleans have been well-served if the media ignored the potential for peril in Hurricane Katrina?

My problem with the mainstream local media is how clueless they were (and in some ways still are). I had been beating the drum for a week prior, and Frantz kept the topic on the front burner, but most of the media was snoozing.

Too many of them want to hide in a cubicle or studio instead of pounding the pavement and talking to people.

I would love to be credited with being a psychic, but the only reason I knew so much is I listened to the leftists, the Nazis, and the gangs. All were talking this up as a big deal, but the MSM was not talking to the people who had the most at stake.

Marcy said that she has been getting slagged by (what I assume are national) radio hosts for holding this session. I think she was genuinely pissed at people taking cheaop shots at her for doing something productive, and it was clear that her political clout was the impetus behind getting so many warring parties there today.

I thought the meeting was highly productive, and that both residents and elected officials learned from each other. Too bad there wasn't more of this before the riot.

Good point on MK and businesses; she is often there when business comes in, but silent when it leaves. At least the local politicians have to face the music; MK has Washington to act as a buffer for criticism.

Then again, DCpoliticians spend a lot of time on DC intrigues; the home state or district must seem strange after 40+ weeks in DC.

historymike said...

Frank:

I was glad to see so many elected officials out there, especially (no offense) in the "shut-up-and-listen" format.

I agree about the stories being told; some of them made my own jaded eyes water.

I agree about the arrestees; most of them got swept up into something. I hope that the judges - with the exception of the truly violent and the arsonists - show some leniency to the people whose greatest "crime" was succumbing to mob mentality.

However, if they are going to charge every 18-year old who tossed a rock with double felonies, that is way too extreme. Community service, especially reducing many of these to misdemeanors, makes much more sense.

Otherwise, I fear that the next visit by Bill White and NSM will bring out people with a perception that they need to settle a score.

And not with chunks of concrete.

Lisa Renee said...

If the Blade was accurate, the majority of those who were arrested then released didn't show up for court. Personally I'd say those who did show up and didn't need a bench warrant issued should be considered for community service.

I don't remember where I heard it, but it was some of our local talk show hosts who slammed the meeting from my understanding.

Since I don't listen unless you are on Mike...I didn't hear it personally to verify that.

While I'm glad people got a chance to vent did anyone who had their property destroyed get a chance to speak? They after all are the real victims in this whole mess.

Sorry if I don't sound sympathetic but after reading what Surinder Kaur was forced to go thru, as well as Jim and Lou's bar, merely making anyone clean up the neighborhood just doesn't seem quite enough. There has to be a balance between too harsh and not harsh enough to send the message that their behavior was wrong.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Sometimes, when you leave whole words out, your posts make little or no sense...

Reposted and corrected:

Pollyanna (Marcy) pops into town whenever political hay can be harvested...

Her relevance seems to be fading.

Her political attacks are shopworn.

Good to see all of the people without need for the police.

Sorry about the errors...

Matt Drudge, Jr. said...

I'll never understand that viewpoint. The media simply covered the topic before and after the riot. The Nazis and the rioters were negative, not the media.

The NSM just showed up, and didn't even march. What happened afterwards was the result of a lot of other things but not the NSM.

Anyways, we're seeing that Africans will be Africans where-ever they are, be it New Orleans, Toledo, and now Birmingham, UK. Like we didn't need Los Angeles, Watts, Detroit, etc. to understand that.

historymike said...

Well, at least we see Mr. Matt Drduge, Jr.'s true colors now.

Kind of suspected that he was a white supremacist, but thanks for confirming this, Matt.

Have a nice day!

historymike said...

It is also convenient how white supremacists can ignore rioting when it concerns hwites.

I recall the 1984 post-World Series riot in Detroit in which police cars were burned and widespread looting and vandalism occurred. The perpetrators were overwhelmingly white.

Or how about the spontaneous Cedarfests on the campus of Michigan State University? Remember the very violent riot in 1989 in which over 3,000 mostly-white rioters burned furniture, ransacked homes and businesses, and in which dozens of people were injured?

Or the numerous post-soccer riots in Europe, too countless to name individually. Seems to me there were a lot of white faces in those ruioting crowds, too.

Lawlessness knows no color boundaries, Mr. Drudge, Jr.

However, you seem to only remember riots in which the majority of the participants were black.

Matt Drudge, Jr. said...

Sorry Mike, but I don't think Whites are superior to anyone else just because they're White. I'm not Bill White either. That's pretty much fighting words where I come from, but I'll let that slide. And no, I'm not a member of the NSM and would never want to join a bunch of anti-semetic Col. Klink types.

I'd go tell you to shove your slander up your ass, but from the looks of your picture you'd probably like that.

historymike said...

Ah, I see.

Can't engage in a rational discussion, so you'd prefer to try to try ad hominem attacks.

That's okay, Matt. Whatever makes you feel better. I suppose I am performing a valuable public service by allowing you to vent your frustrations here.

Have a nice day!