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Hundreds Gather in Cleveland Heights to Discuss Coventry, Flash Mobs and Curfew

About 200 people attended the Heights Community Congress and CHUH Public Library forum Wednesday night at the Lee Road branch

Close to 200 people came to a meeting Wednesday night hosted by the and the Heights Community Congress to discuss the problems after recent community events like the .

At least 30 people spoke their mind about the recent "flash mob" outbreaks and the "riot" that occurred after the Coventry fair June 26.

As a result, the next festival, which was scheduled for July 24, is now .

The purpose of the forum wasn't to solve the problems that can happen when several kids from different cities gather in one area, but rather let residents start a dialogue about possible solutions, said Heights Community Congress Executive Director Kasey Greer.

"I was there," said resident Leatrice Tolls of the Coventry street festival. "It was not a riot. They showed up at 5 (p.m.) and they ran down the street in unison. That's all they did, and that's not illegal."

Tolls said the problem didn't start two weeks ago at that festival, it started years ago, and it's not about black and white, it's about fear.

Residents said that some people have brought race into the discussion of flash crowds, and that's not the issue. 

"People are afraid, and they're saying stupid things," an emotional Tolls said. "We have to rein in that fear. Let's get real, and let's give them something to do."

In response to the incidents after the fair, when fights broke out and 16 people were arrested, Cleveland Heights City Council quickly  in the Coventry and Cedar Lee business districts at the end of June and at its July 5 meeting. 

One resident questioned whether the new 6 p.m. curfew was targeting black youth and if any arrests have been made since its implementation. 

"Is the curfew being enforced universally? Yes, it is," Cleveland Heights Police Chief Jeffrey Robertson said. "It's been a situation where the kids have responded pretty well. We've made a couple of arrests. The arrests we made were that they were in violation."

The juveniles left the area, but then came back and were then arrested, Robertson said.

"We are still trying to get the word out to the youth," he said. "If someone is going to be advised of the ordinance and come back and cause a disturbance, they're going to run the risk of getting arrested."

There was a small youth presence at the forum, and some said there were no targeted activities for kids in the city.

"I don't like the curfew," said 17-year-old Leshaunne Pitmon. "What if I wanted to go get some pizza after 6 p.m.? I can't. Many of the people who cause these problems don't care about the curfew. Giving consequences to the people who are there every day isn't fair."

jason washington July 14, 2011 at 04:37 PM
Address the fear and the city & residents solve the problem. I remember the coventry st fair of the 80's, hacky sack, rocky horror picture show. We all got along! Yet even then, there was an under current of fear then! However I've sought out areas that mirror CHUH to raise 4 children. Keep the culture intack, deal with the fear or you'll pass that on! Jason Washington class of 88.
Donald R. Thompson July 14, 2011 at 09:23 PM
In Egypt..are you seriously ignorant??? In Egypt...Libya...Tunisia...Yemen= People under violent dictatorships with huge unemployment and low wages compared to the USA. Equating the flash mob idiocy with REAL political and human rights issues in these Mid-East countries ri-DAMN-diculous
James Worthing July 16, 2011 at 03:55 AM
There's obvious really issues if 16 people had to be arrested due to violence. This is why people fear flash mobs. Because of that. If it was completely peacful this wouldn't be an issue. If you fear that it's targeting blacks then don't be a stereotype and reign in control of your children.
linda jenkins July 22, 2011 at 01:15 PM
What is a Riot,what is a Flash Mob,do we know the difference?In TV commercials flash mobs are encouraged and appear to be innocent,fun and always done in unison,if there were interuptions it's obvious that person or persons need to be addressed,the riot or the flash mob which one deserve the real attention?LET OUR YOUNG PEOPLE GO!!!
John Hubbard July 22, 2011 at 09:53 PM
Just got our curfew letter from the Mayor & Council. The curfew is justified with vague assertions rather than factual detail and is incredibly far reaching -- it expands the original curfew law from six lines to two pages and gives the city the ability to create "Temporary Special Curfew Areas" utilizing the same types of vague assertions (not facts) used in the letter. The letter further challenges credibility by saying the city needs to act aggressively to maintain quality of life. I think a review of other city laws might reveal that aggressive behavior is frowned upon. Let's get rid of this failed law and create something that is based on accurate information and actually supports the entire community.

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