Goodbye to Cleveland, so long crime

Brian Thornton

Poor St. Louis. Sure, the Cardinals took the World Series in quick fashion. But then the city learned it was the most dangerous city in the country.

Of course, closer to home, we’re not doing much better. The same survey by Morgan Quitno Press ranked Cleveland as the seventh-most dangerous locale. Last year we were 12th. We may have been waiting decades for a team that can clinch the Superbowl, World Series or NBA Championship, but at our current, torrid pace, this is one victory we may soon claim.

Cleveland doesn’t necessarily seem dangerous. Sure, the downtown streets at night are empty and dark. Just a few minutes from the Jake, you can turn down streets where practically every other house is abandoned and boarded up, and trash and graffiti clutter empty lots and roadsides.

Still, if you’re not a complete ‘fraidy-cat, most suburbanites should feel safe in the city. Until something happens to you.

Three weeks ago, I parked my 2000 Dodge Neon out front of a friend’s house in the Detroit Shoreway area. He’s one of those urban-cool guys who buys houses in up-and-coming neighborhoods. And in all of the years I’ve spent visiting him and other friends on the west side of Cleveland, I’ve never had an incident.

But two hours later, after “Lost” and “Project Runway,” I walked outside to the curb, where all that remained of my car was a few bits of broken glass. I became just another victim of city crime.

I shouldn’t have been surprised: When I walked into David’s house, I joked, “My car’s on the street – it probably won’t be there when I come back.”

Why would I make such a joke? Because during the past three months, my friends have been the victims of a crime wave that has hit us seven times.

Mike’s car was stolen. Michelle’s car was stolen. Ted was punched in the face by a group of kids while he rode through the neighborhood on his bike. Eddie’s bike was ripped off at his office. Dan was mugged and had to go to the hospital. And Sandro was carjacked at gunpoint.

Seven friends. Seven incidents. All within the same 30-block region of the city. This is the same part of Cleveland where two artists were murdered in their upscale condos and a policeman was shot. And there are many, many more incidents.

In the immediate aftermath of the crime, I posted an entry to my blog with pictures of my missing car and the comment, “Thanks, Cleveland, for giving me another reason to leave.”

One reader sent a snide response. “As if cars don’t get stolen in other cities.”

Of course they do. But there are plenty of other cities that have leaders who would respond to an obvious rise in crime. Where is the police taskforce? Where are the outraged members of city council? Where is the newspaper investigation?

Police found my car a day later. It’s back, following $1,500 in repairs.

But I still don’t have my answers. And my car will still be taking me away next summer — to a city where the leaders care that citizens are in danger.

Brian Thornton is a graduate journalism student and Forum editor for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].