Crime wave in Toledo is the focus of meeting Thursday

Kelly J. Kaczala

         The Coalition for Peaceful Toledo Neighborhoods, led by former Toledo Mayors Carty Finkbeiner, Mike Bell, Paula Hicks-Hudson and Donna Owens, will hold a public meeting at St. Thomas Aquinas Rectory, 729 White St., on Thursday at 6 p.m. to discuss the surge in crime in East Toledo.
        The group is holding meetings throughout Toledo, but on Thursday, the focus will be on increased crime in East Toledo.
        “We four are of the belief that the present administration of Toledo, including the mayor and chief of police, do not have a plan to attack the violence in a growing number of Toledo neighborhoods,” said Finkbeiner. “The numbers support us. We had 70 murders a year ago. We used to be a city that had far fewer murders per year. One time when I was mayor, we had 13 murders in a year. In other years, we’ve averaged about 25-36 murders per year. This year, we have 60 murders already. It seems to me they’re moving out further west, east, north near the Michigan line and south to Maumee going past Walbridge Park on Broadway and River Road.”
        There is a concern that the growing crime wave will prompt Toledo residents to flee to the suburbs where violence is less prevalent.
        “We feel a growing number of Toledoans will be making a choice to either stay in Toledo, where it’s more violent, or go to the suburbs, where it’s less violent. A number of Toledo police officers have moved from Toledo to the suburbs, some to get jobs in Oregon, Sylvania, Perrysburg and Maumee because they feel safer as police. The pay is about the same. There’s not much difference. But their families, they feel, will be safer and the work they’re doing as police officers will be more greatly appreciated in the suburbs. So we’re losing police officers to the suburbs,” said Finkbeiner.
        “There’s a whole lot of national organizations that have concluded the main reason why there’s growing violence in this country is twofold: There’s way more guns available in society than there used to be, particularly multiple firing machine guns. Secondly, ever since the Black Lives Matter movement, many big city mayors, rather than offend some of their voters by taking a very businesslike and tough minded approach to protecting citizens, are turning their backs on the violence for fear they will be accused of being anti-black. Most – not all- big city mayors are Democrats, and Democrats have always had a good relationship with African-Americans, at least in the last 25 years. They want to keep those relationships going. There’s the belief if they take a hard-nosed position against crime and violence, they will lose some of their African-American voting support. I know it’s a bunch of baloney to take that position. If you go into the African-American barbershops and beauty salons, and you talk to the men and women sitting in the barber chairs and beauty salon chairs, they want peace and quiet in their neighborhoods every bit as much as any Caucasian man or women who want peace and quiet in their neighborhoods,” he said.
        “We feel it’s time to send a message by organizing,” said Finkbeiner. “I walked in the East Toledo parade last week. Some of the older neighborhoods have absentee landlords. I noticed many of these properties are not well-kept. We have to work a little extra hard in East Toledo, a little extra hard in North Toledo, and now in West and South Toledo as well, to keep our neighborhoods clean. The overhead street lights also have to be replaced if one goes out.  We need to do everything we can to make sure that wherever one lives in Toledo, they feel comfortable when they drive their cars home in the evening, and not be concerned if someone is following them. That’s not the Toledo I was born and raised in. It’s not the Toledo I was mayor of for 12 years. Mike Bell, Donna Owens, and Paula Hicks-Hudson feel the same way. We’re prepared to tell the police chief, mayor and city council members to get a plan, and be pro-active to help residents.”
        East Toledo, he said, used to be the safest, most secure part of the city.
        “The old timers lived there for over 20 years. They loved it and took care of things. But beyond Front and Main streets, going toward Birmingham and Starr Avenue, there’s evidence of uncaringness – of people not thinking it’s important to take are of one’s property, and the city not taking care of the streets and alleys. So we’re coming to East Toledo as we tour the city. I don’t ever want to leave East Toledo out. My first job out of college was coaching football. After I stopped coaching, I went to work for the federal anti-poverty program out of East Toledo. So I got very well acquainted with the leaders of East Toledo back then. And I remain good friends with many today.”
        Another meeting may be held in East Toledo, possibly in the Birmingham neighborhood, in the future, he said.


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