They’re children, not gang members

Sandusky Register Staff
Oct 2, 2013
Thirteen teenagers — children — are charged with participating in criminal gang activity, aggravated rioting, burglary and vandalism for their alleged actions during a brawl inside a hallway at a Fox Run Trail apartment building last month.

There are photos of the boys with their shirts off, throwing their hands in the air.

The Sandusky Police Department and prosecutors determined it was a “gang turf war.”

There’s a video clip from a surveillance camera, scaring the good people of Erie County into an anti-young-black-male frenzy.

Welcome to “The Erie County Threat Matrix.” It’s a place where they think if they repeat words like gang, youth, assailants and dangerous — often enough — residents will be too scared to realize Erie County is preparing to send up their children.

It would be better if we could see this for what it really was: A fight between teenagers and about a dozen men that started over a basketball game. It resulted in the vandalism of a hallway. There were no serious injuries.

But 13 city teens are charged with participating in criminal gang activity, a second-degree felony, and aggravated rioting. It was just a fight, not much different from the schoolyard fights that have occurred every day for generations.

The charges that resulted can bring serious prison sentences, however, which will have serious impact on the children involved, diminishing their opportunities to build a normal life. For what? Actions that really don’t deserve any charges more serious than a misdemeanor assault, disorderly conduct or vandalism.

It’s ridiculous.

There’s no precedent in Erie County for the kind of charges filed against these kids.

The Hell’s Angels and the Outlaws operated here for years. No threat warnings went out. Erie County did not go to DefconFive, and no members of those groups were ever charged with participating in criminal gang activity or aggravated rioting for a brawl.

There was never an effort to address the so-called “gang problem,” even after the murder of David Hartlaub by members of the Hell’s Angels in 1988.

So why are officials handling these children differently?

Could it be “gangs” are not the issue?

Every Bike Week, each year, we get an influx of gangs sporting their colors on the back of their vest. These gangs have been responsible for brawls, other criminal activities and murder. Yet the county never addressed any gang problem in those situations.

Is it simply the complexion of the gangs has changed? If not, then why now? Why these kids? Why bring such serious charges against kids over an incident that resulted in no serious injuries, resulted in only minor property damage, didn’t involve a firearm, and put no innocent people in danger?

I’ve witnessed plenty of what can be considered “gang turf wars” in parking lots of bars throughout the city, and the gangsinvolved were not always comprised of black males. Yeah, surprise — young and old caucasian males are known to “brawl” as well, yet I can only remember black people being charged with aggravated rioting.

Has a caucasian ever been charged with aggravated rioting in Erie County, or are charges like participating in criminal gang activity and aggravated rioting reserved for Erie County’s African-American population?

What makes these Sandusky boys a criminal gang? They don’t have a drug empire. They don’t extort local business owners. They’re not a terrorist cell. What criminal activity do they come together as a group and collectively plan and execute?

It would better serve the community to approach the potential incarceration of our children with extreme care, as if we fear wasting Erie County’s most valuable resource: its youth.

Comments

lmalley77

Starry...I didn't BASH you, I simply stated that YOU should re-read the PDF file again, because you were telling everyone ELSE to read it right, and you were putting words on the posts that weren't even in the PDF file!...Could you please enlighten me on HOW that was bashing or trolling???...Hahahaha...I'm just laughing now, because you told me to not take everything so literal, but here you are, on another article looking to see who you can "troll" with and I guess I'm the lucky winner tonight!...Oh well...I said my peace and stated my opinions, that's NOT bashing or trolling, that's called using my brain and posting something that makes sense, such as the fact that you were "reading between the lines" as you put it, and were not stating facts, but instead you were manipulating the truth of what was said in the PDF file to fit the way you "saw" it...good night... hope you have a blessed night and a beautiful day tomorrow...I will not go to bed bitter, no matter how hard anyone may try to make me! :)

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Posting under one's name certainly leads to a necessity to make sure your point is out there, explained, and hopefully understood. I post effectively under my name as a commenter and my real name as a blogger to ensure a level of scrutiny is taken in what I present. Anonymity still has a role, I believe many of our founding fathers wrote under a pen name, but then again it wasn't as easy to have a town crier go, "@vacolony #BeFrank 's bald spot wuz brite in the July sun 2day, mayb he needs a #Whig"

While the Huffington Post and I usually don't agree, I did read how they are changing their comment policy to encourage more "real" posters. It may be worth taking a look and see if Tandem/SR can do something similar? I know some have expressed an interest in a rating or karma system similar to likes/dislikes on Facebook, YouTube, etc. Or, barring that, "certified" posters have their comments stickied at the top while others who want to hash it out anonymously can do so below the "real" comments?

Hopefully these leads can actually produce some good policy and commenting here! Email me or set up a time I can see you all at the building if you'd like to discuss more.

2cents

And Jason, how much editing did the SR do to his writing? I know when I used to submit letters to the editor they would get edited for more than typos and it became worse over the years of new editors so I stopped when my friends asked 'what happened to your meaning". Having the blogs one can type unedited and with a name they may become targeted by a reader that may not like what they have to say about a particular subject!

J. Hartman

Thank You Jason!!!!!!! Like I mentioned before, some papers make you use your facebook as a log in. Not sure what you do for people who are not on facebook, but that would be a start. Everyone should use their right to the 1st amendment, but it would also be nice to address the real names when false/inaccurate comments are made. It would also limit people from writing an article under their birth name only to use a fictitious name when comments are not going the way they may have wanted. I would miss some of the funnier ones however!

Stop It

And you don't think that a false name Facebook account is possible? Not to mention those that keep up with the security features Facebook is famous for changing on a monthly basis. You are naive as all get out..even if I gave you my FB page, you could not read it unless I wanted you to.

Get real.

8ballinthesidepocket

More often than not, people on Facebook, those who want to rant and rave false accusations, use a pseudo name or their own name but have found a way to construct their page so that you cannot find that person or even block them or defriend them. Facebook has deteriorated into the same garbage and name calling site as this news rag. I you should have photo id to use this forum and your correct name. I don't want people shooting or stabbing the wrong people.

BDupler

So people's opinions do not count if they do not use their real name?

Jason, while I appreciate the Register's attempt at creating constructive conversation and debate, publishing a column that has some have pointed out as being blatant race baiting. This gentlemen never really makes his case why the people caught on the video should not be charged. He totally ignores the fact that the others involved came here from Detroit. School yard fights the author refers to did not ever involve the mass of people that this fight swelled to (which you could call a gang). The author never shares his thoughts on what an acceptable charge or charges against this "gang" of people are. As for locking up our youth, maybe it is the wake up call that they need. It appears that Mr. Newell has turned around since his incarceration. If our local youth are shown that the type of public behavior that was captured on the video tapes is acceptable then what will the results be?

Remember what Friedrich Nietzsche said "Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule."

A couple years ago a couple local small business owners and myself went around and photographed all of the graffiti around portions of the town and checked it online against known gang graffiti. If this author is trying to tell us that we do not have a gang issue in this town, then he needs to walk out the pressroom door and look at the walls behind the Old Odd Fellows building. Those photographs were cataloged online and links were sent to city leaders. Obviously, for the most part they were ignored.

I would like to suggest that The Register use a commenting system that requires a Facebook log-in much like the Toledo Blade and ESPN uses. It will lead to what you say you are seeking. However, it will lead to less web traffic, which if we can be honest is what you really are seeking.

thinkagain

.

Stop It

See above on the use FB for ID. Really? Are that many people unaware that we can use fake names on FB, use proxies for the ISP addy and create a new e-mail (used for sign-up to an account) on the fly?

This is not the '90's..it's 2013.

Hawkeye

Sandusky register needs to be honest with their readers why they pulled the Perkins BOE video from the website and all of the comment sections Are they apposed to freedom of speech?

Pastor Ron

Clearly part of the problem is that a segment of our population chooses not to live in an orderly society. They lack basic intellect and common sense. If you watch the video, they look like a pack of wide animals and wild animals need to be in the wild or locked up. If these kids want to act like thugs and pretend they are in a gang, then they deserve to be treated like adults. If the "community" they come from can't take care of their own..... they shouldn't complain when the system steps up and does something about it. Listen to the police scanner it is the same people over and over.

Bottom Line

Hey, Jason, giving this guy a forum to voice his biased, felonious opinion is a joke. Normally, I just sit back while others point out that this paper is an embarrasment. Today I will do the same. How about a real article? It's been a few days since there was anything on here promoting gay pride. Maybe that would be good filler until then.

Jason Werling

There are plenty of articles for you to read at our site, we also provide opinion columns and blogs. When we publish unhappy news we are asked for happy stories and when we post happy stories we are asked "How is this a story, how about some real news?"

Isn't every opinion biased?

What we do provide is a well-rounded source of information, news, opinions, photos, sports and entertainment.

Look around a bit, use the navigation bar at the top of this page to go to Norwalk news, area sports, entertainment and healthier living. Download a couple coupons while you're at it.

Not every article is what every individual is looking for, if it isn't for you then move on to one that is. And if nothing interests you then let us know what does and we will do what we can to include it here.

werling@sanduskyregister.com 419.609.5850

Centauri

A case of Romper Room with little tots?

Centauri

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/...
"Teenager becomes the 16th gang member convicted of killing 15-year-old at Victoria Station as he is jailed for 11 years"

Unassumer

I remember years ago that the advice was given that if there are more than 3 teenagers hanging around together, that's a gang and one should call police. Kept alot of old ladies busy!

starryeyes83

not just old ladies. not just old people.

starryeyes83

Jason,

I caught your last comment about " that will change soon", Before, you re- wrote it.

I believe that people will say anything they wish, whether under a username or not. Public or not. I know I have done both.

However,

There are crazies out there looking for fight who have been on HERE to physically threaten anyone who's opinion they don't like.

The excuses of "they're just kids" or "they're getting picked on because they're black " is getting tiresome.

So SR, Do what you will.

huronguy

Anyone notice how they removed the ANONYMOUS and put SANDUSKY REGISTER STAFF! up now? Why the change??????? This paper is officially a JOKE. I once had my full first and last name as the username on my Profile and I noticed when I used my full first and last name The Sandusky Register would allow others to attack me but anytime I said something back My comment was removed while there's stayed up. I figured as a local business owner to just remove it.

thinkagain

The SR is aware that there are several commentators who’s only contributions are limited to personal attacks. Yet each day they are allowed unfettered access to continue their taunts. My own personal troll being one of them.

Jason Werling

"Inappropriate? Alert Us" is not unfettered. Please utilize it.

brassman

Good, could you go back to removing posts that contain a very offensive word aimed at those with a disability? Matt Westerhold used to be good at making sure they were removed promptly (including ones that just use a shortened term for them) but lately they've been allowed to stay even after being reported numerous times.

thinkagain

There are only two reasons why you would offer such an inadequate and false reply.

1 – The “Inappropriate? Alert Us” link is non-functional and you are not aware that said button has been pressed numerous times with no result.

2 – You have no idea how to properly moderate a comment section.

Stop It

"Inappropriate? Alert Us" doesn't work if no-one looks at it and fails to follow through.

Jason Werling

huronguy- there was no conspiracy here. You pointed out that it said anonymous, which is what posts when we do not put an author to our stories. 

Damon does not have a username set up yet so I switched it to Sandusky Register Staff to make it more clear for our readers.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

This is very much true. It was the same for me. No conspiracy.

Tru Grit

Jason, I think you should have Damon come to anyone of the DYS facilities and see the 13-15 year old gang members in either of the "heartless felons" or "head busta" that are in the youth system. these kids while young are committing adult crimes, felonious assualt, aggrevated assualt, and the list goes on. You might then have a different perspective on what you think is gang activity. If what happened at that apartment complex happened at my facility down in Massillon at Indian River, it would have been a "gang" related signal. These kids acted as a collective group creating a serious disturbance, that is gang mentality and activity. These kids are not just "kids" these are teenagers who try and act like the people they see rapping and the older adults in their lifes or that they see in society act like this and want to be just like them. I am telling you right now from personal experience with young violent offenders the worst ohio has to offer, you treat a kid like a kid he is going to try to get away with anything and everything. I am glad these kids were chraged with the crimes they committed and maybe they might understand my life path sucks and needs to change.

Jason Werling

Tru Grit- I am not arguing for or against Damon's opinion, just that it is his opinion and he is putting himself out there by using his real name to write a column for the Register and to have it posted here as a blog. This is something that the reporters, bloggers and letter-to-the-editor community members do every day.

Darwin's choice

Did you not see the comment by "Dick Tracey" above? The statement made by the felon is an outright lie! Is this what you do everyday?

DickTracey

No, Darwin, Jason has responded to everyone on here, but me.

An opinion is one thing, but what he wrote about bikers at Bike Week is an outright lie.

Where does Damon get off cutting down bikers when he has been arrested for rape, assault, kidnapping and theft? None of my biker friends have been arrested, even the ones in "gangs" !

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