10/16/2005

Black Gang Violence

In the days leading up to a white supremacist march, ministers pleaded with Toledo residents to stay calm and community leaders organized peace rallies. Authorities even delayed releasing the route so protesters wouldn't know where the group planned to march. It wasn't enough to stop an angry mob that included gang members from looting and burning a neighborhood bar, smashing the windows of a gas station and hurling rocks and bottles at police on Saturday. Twelve officers were injured, one suffering a concussion when a brick flew through her cruiser window. In all, 114 people were arrested on charges including assault, vandalism, failure to disperse and overnight curfew violations.

Much of the anger boiled over because people were upset that city leaders were willing to allow the supremacists to walk through the neighborhood and shout insults, residents and authorities said. Authorities said there was little they could do to stop the group, because they did not apply for a parade permit and instead planned to walk along sidewalks.

A gang member in a mask threatened to shoot him, and others cursed him for allowing the march, the mayor said. He said he didn't know if the man who threatened him was actually armed, but he blamed gangs for much of the violence. The march had been called off because of the crowds, and the white supremacists had left.

The neo-Nazi group, known as "America's Nazi Party," said they came to the city because of a dispute between neighbors, one white and the other black. Police began receiving word midweek from officers on the street that gangs were going to descend on the neighborhood in protest, the police chief said. The disturbances were confined to a 1-square-mile area, but the crowd swelled to about 600 people, overwhelming police.

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