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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Mob violence only widens racial divide

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I question the decision by Toledo, Ohio, city officials to allow a neo-Nazi march Saturday in a primarily black neighborhood. But I still need an answer as to why a mob of 1,000 residents decided to use the protest as an opportunity to destroy buildings, loot stores and throw rocks and bricks at police. Neither the protest nor the riot made one lick of sense.

When the mob finally dispersed, 114 people had been arrested and officials are still trying to determine the final damage estimate.

It all started when city officials agreed to allow 20 neo-Nazi idiots protest a local dispute between a white and black neighbor. That was the first mistake. But then they allowed the protest march to be scheduled in a neighborhood that was primarily minority. That was the second mistake.

Gang members by the hundreds decided to use the event as an excuse to riot. They roamed the neighborhood, looting stores, burning buildings and attacking police. Now why police would be the target of attacks just plain makes no sense. But idiots come in all colors, shapes and sizes.

If free speech prohibits you from yelling "fire" in a crowded theater, maybe it should also address the knuckle-headed decision to allow the white supremacists to protest in a black neighborhood. That's just ignorant. I'm sick of all these fringe lunatics hiding behind that free speech banner. Their rights end when they endanger others.

The gang members who took advantage of the situation are equally to blame. Why do some believe that part of protesting involves looting businesses and stealing merchandise? If you can explain that you might help to bridge the racial divide that is expanding in this country.

Had the gangs gathered and laughed at the neo-Nazi protesters, they would have accomplished much more than they did. Had they mocked the idiots in the Nazi uniforms, America would have laughed right along with them. And that laughter would have diminished the message of the Nazi gang into a pitiful dribble.

But instead, the gangs proved what many people in this country believe. And that is this: Given the opportunity to voice their concerns over racial issues, far too many people resort to looting and violence. That accomplishes nothing positive but reinforces a stereotype of mob action.

Racial tensions should be discussed openly and honestly but when dialogue gives way to looting, all bets are off.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen