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Friday, May 11, 2007

A united front against lawlessness

Plain Dealer Article Here

Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap.

Consider this a standing ovation.

Steve Loomis, Zack Reed and George Forbes deserve applause for presenting a united front.

Black and white; police, politician and NAACP.

The police union leader, the councilman and the NAACP president are all going to spend the night in the home where Damon Wells lived before vandals shattered the windows.

Talk about your strange bedfellows.

This is big.


The timing makes it even more incredible: The three men announced their unique slumber party the day after Cleveland police shot and killed a black man who had a gun and resisted arrest.

Weeks ago that shooting would have prompted protests.
After two teens tried to rob Wells at gunpoint and he killed 15-year-old Arthur Buford in self-defense, the tide shifted. For the first time, it wasn't just about race.


Wells is a black man who legally defended himself against two black teens who were on probation for aggravated robbery.

People of all races are fed up with thug behavior. In the last two weeks, I've heard from more than 1,000 readers who said it's time for a change.

This isn't a black problem. It isn't a Cleveland problem. It's everyone's problem - and it's moving to a suburb near you.

The shooting by Wells gave everyone pause. Few see Buford as the victim in this.

Both white and black people can relate to Wells, who is black. They see him solely as a man protecting his life and his home. Race isn't an issue.

We all can relate to Wells. We all want the right to feel safe in our homes, our yards, our neighborhoods.

It's time for anyone on the fence to choose a side. There are only two choices, and there isn't a black side or a white side.

The options are right or wrong. Law and order or lawlessness and chaos.
n the Mount Pleasant area near Wells' home, one out of 100 residents have been robbed or seriously assaulted. Old folks are packing guns for protection.

The leading cause of death for black men 15 to 35 is homicide. Most of them by black males.

In Tuesday's shooting, a dozen witnesses saw the man refuse numerous police orders and struggle. The man had a gun in the car. Some would call that suicide by cop.

A sidewalk shrine is already growing for him. Someone left two Care Bears there.

Care Bears?

Zack Reed has the start of a plan to take back the community. Make the Wells home safe. Get churches to sponsor kids for summer jobs. Set up a hot line to report crimes, which means leaders need to emphasize that callers aren't snitches. They are guardians of the 'hood.

Dozens want to help Damon Wells. A fund was set up at Charter One Bank, 16622 Harvard Ave., Cleveland, OH 44128 for Damon and for Jestina Berry, who leases the home.

Reed, Forbes and Loomis are taking action. What's next?

You tell me.

What steps do we take now?

This is the new civil rights movement. Who's up for it?

Join Regina Brett at 9 a.m. on WCPN FM/90.3, where she hosts "The Sound of Ideas" on Fridays.

To reach Regina Brett:

rbrett@plaind.com, 216-999-6328

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