By Rev. Benjamin Green
All right Toledo, here we go again, and I’m not talking about the Isley Brothers!!’
On April 17, there was a town hall meeting at Scott High School, regarding “Gun Violence “ in Toledo area.
Unfortunately or fortunately, I was unable to be there because the doors were closed, both physically and via the virtual Zoom. However, while I am not trying to be a naysayer at all, the outcome of what I expected from the gathering happened and, in fact, it was below my expectations, and my expectations were low.
But before I appear to be arrogant and not a positive team player, let me say that this is nothing personal against JoJuan Armour or any of his associates, whom I assume are very serious about what they are doing or are about to do.
With that being said, let me now begin with my complaint. The first thing that I read in the Blade right off the bat that indicated that the beginning of this endeavor, if I can call it that, was the headlines. “Toledo holds its first gun violence town hall meeting.”
There are several things wrong with this statement. First of all, if the mayor and city officials are truly concerned, after all these years, why is it the first? After all these deaths, why is it the first?
Secondly, the past conversations have implied that we have a youth problem. Why are we solely talking about guns, when the primary problem that we have is: what should we be doing for our youth?
The third problem that I have from reading about the meeting is that somebody decided that it was time to put the entire blame on our police. Are you kidding me?
And last, but not least, the statement that, “Everything that you address here will be put into action, or we will attempt to put into action. What that looks like, we don’t know.”
You are kidding me right? Tell me that you are not making a public statement that clearly says, “We don’t have a clue nor a plan.”
Now for clarity’s sake, I would like to know what page we are all on, because so far, the beginning of this things sounds like a recipe for miscommunication. Are we talking about gun violence, which would include everyone in the entire city?
Are we talking about saving our youth, which would mean that this thing would need to be much more intensive?
Are we talking about gun confiscation? Are we talking about creating programs or are we talking about creating a process, something that will be ongoing, measurable, repeatable and profitable, because if you are not, don’t waste your time starting off on the wrong foot.
Another thing that I would like to know is who were the main stakeholders who were there, beside parents and concerned citizens? Were there people in attendance whom one could consider to be movers and shakers? Who were the people with the critical resources for an undertaking of something of this magnitude? Talk to me if you can!
Were City Council members there? Was the mayor and his entourage there and engaged? Were union officials, teachers, principals and school administrators there? Was the police department there as stakeholders? What business representatives, owners and CEOs of companies were there? Are you including clergy and what general expectations do you have for the stake holders?
And where were the youth, if in fact we were expecting youth to show up? What were the demographics of the people there? Were blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians all included? Does this issue affect the entire city? It certainly does when it comes to the budget.
These are just a few questions, but I have many more and I can guarantee you that the questions can get much harder, much harder. I’m finished for now but there will be another round of questions and concerns and, trust me, I am prepared to help, but I’m not going become engaged, unless I see more than crumbs thrown to the side for a few disgruntled citizens to play with. I want to hear some serious talk about a serious problem that has existed not just in Toledo, but across these United States for years.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again, “I do have a vision and a plan!”