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Y’town must take back streets

Published: Sun, October 3, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

So long as we keep using words such as “random,” “senseless,” “unfortunate” and even “mistaken identity” to describe the killings and other acts of violence in Youngstown, we will never take the action necessary to deal with the crime epidemic.

Youngstown is in a state of war that has been declared by the gangbangers and other dregs of society, and the city is losing. If there was any doubt as to the power of the enemy, the cache of weapons and other instruments of war found in the most recent murder investigation should put things in perspective.

Those who would do us harm are well armed and are willing to kill at the blink of an eye. Not convinced? Here’s a challenge: Drive around the lower South Side and if you see a car with several punks in it blocking your way, honk your horn and see what happens. (You probably won’t see what happens.)

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when certain neighborhoods in Youngstown were considered safe. Not any more. West Side and upper North Side residents are experiencing the same crime epidemic that has plagued the South and East sides for so long.

War has been launched on the city — and the time has come to fight back.

How? Civil libertarians may want to skip the next paragraph.

Mayor Jay Williams and city council should declare a state of emergency, impose a curfew and then go after the gangbangers with guns drawn. Worrying about their civil rights has brought nothing but death and despair to the law-abiding residents — to repeat, residents — of Youngstown.

Theoretical discourse

Suburbanites in the comfort of their safe neighborhoods have the luxury of theoretical discourse about crime and punishment. The people who live in the war zone don’t.

The first call to this writer on Monday in the aftermath of the murder of 74-year-old Thomas J. Repchic was from an elderly resident of the South Side.

She was distraught over the killing, angry with Police Chief Jimmy Hughes and afraid. She wanted to attend a community meeting that night at Trinity United Methodist Church but said she was too scared to go.

Repchic’s murder is being called a case of “mistaken identity” by the police, rather than the “brutal slaying of an innocent man.”

The shooters weren’t on a joy ride when they had a sudden urge to open fire on Repchic’s car — his wife, Jacqueline, was injured. They were looking for a rival gang leader. Their intent wasn’t to sit down with the gangster and discuss their problems over a cup of coffee.

To illustrate the extent of the lawlessness, consider this: There was an attempted burglary at the Repchics’ house on the South Side on the day of the shooting.

What would the state emergency entail? Extraordinary police powers, the installation of surveillance cameras on streets throughout the city and the targeting of thugs who drive around in automobiles worth more than many houses in the city.

There’s an easy way to target them: Enforce the state’s seat belt law to the fullest. Gangbangers do not wear seat belts because they want to be able to scramble out of their cars when they are under fire.

And, the state of emergency would have to include hanging judges. The three judges of the municipal court would treat every crime committed with a gun as a major offense.

The word should go out that a burglary committed with a weapon will result in a very long prison sentence — or hands being cut off.

Rape will result in dismemberment.

And murder — public hanging.

To be sure, none of those extreme measures for dealing with Youngstown’s crime problem will be used, but it certainly feels good to indulge in such musings.

Losing battle

In war, only the strong survive. The city of Youngstown has tried to fight back with caution — and is losing.

It’s time to bring out the big guns.

While all the law enforcement initiatives over the past several years have had some effect, the recent murders of Repchic, Realtor Vivian Martin and elderly churchgoer Angeline Fimognari demonstrate that criminals aren’t afraid of operating in Youngstown.

Cities that were once under siege and are now comparatively crime-free have found ways of ridding themselves of the dregs of society.


1author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 10 months ago


Don't stop there... totally eliminate the bill of rights for every citizen who lives, travels or conducts business in Youngstown (tongue in cheek).

No rights for anyone but Bertram, his bosses, the government and other special interests!

The King is dead, long live the King!

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2FrankDavis(35 comments)posted 5 years, 10 months ago

Holy cow...for ONCE, I think I have to agree with Bert here.

Until this violence stops, I am happy to give up some civil liberties in order to remain ALIVE.

I say we do it, and when you libs start boo hooing to your ACLU laywers, you guys can march up and down South Ave or over on the East Side on a Friday and Saturday night, protesting about this, and we'll talk Monday morning.

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3beauquest(2 comments)posted 5 years, 10 months ago

Gov’t needs to get more innovative in its war on violence as you suggest. Video cameras in strategic locations, monitored 24/7 by lower paid private sector employees, as opposed to public sector high paid employees, would be of considerable help. Police can be called as needed, (more efficient use of police resources) and needed evidence of criminal activity, etc., would be quite useful. Much of the gov’t money spent for crime is allocated and used ineffectively and inefficiently, e.g., $500k for audio equipment (an after the crime response but not prevention tool) to find out from where the shots originated.

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4FormerYtowner(96 comments)posted 5 years, 10 months ago


You must be a past thug and know how the thug world operates, a current thug, or a wanna be thug. Something drastic has to be done in Youngstown to get the crime under control. As FrankDavis said, giving up a few civil liberties to remain safe and alive does not sound like a bad idea. Once crime in better controlled lift the S.O.E and the curfew and life resumes.

Bert, i find myself agreeing more than disagreeing but this article hits the nail on the head. Great job.

Oh and by the way, FrankDavis, I am a lib and I am all for this.

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5mrblue(1175 comments)posted 5 years, 10 months ago

How many more people have to die before REAL action is taken in Y-town and surrounding areas? Call in the National Guard, the OSP, the Sherrif'fs Dept. and pound the criminals into the ground. Put the money where it is most needed or you will lose the war. Words won't do it---------Action will-------- Swift and Harsh.

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61970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 10 months ago

Blah blah blah. Give it a week or two and Bertram will be back writing his columns supporting liberal officeholders who appoint and confirm liberal judges who impose weak sentences for violent crime. Blah blah blah.

How about a column on why the mayor, despite giving the city police chief less than a ringing endorsement in Vindy within last year (he graded him a B- or C+, I forget which) has kept hm as police chief.

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7author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 10 months ago

Never, ever give up the rights that use to make this country great. People will then have to fear not only the gangsters, but the jack-booted thugs who will use their new found powers to trample everyone they deem 'unfit'.

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8Silence_Dogood(1677 comments)posted 5 years, 10 months ago

I can recall the beauty of the North Side and South Side of Youngstown in the sixties and seventies, they were safe neighborhoods were everyone watched out for each other. It is sad to realize that the locust have gone thru these areas and used up all that they offered and have left an empty shell behind.
There was a term used in the sixties to denote people moving away from Black people, it was termed "white flight", it is sad, but that is happening again in Youngstown, and I don't blame them one bit.
I can't help it if people take offense to this phenomenon and want to view it as racist. The reality is it has more to do with self-preservation then the color of the skin.When you look at things with open and honest eye's you can see how neighborhoods have turned color over the decades and you can see the increase in crime and the deterioration of homes.
An honest look at the last thirty years of VIOLENT CRIME in Youngstown will reveal that the overwhelming majority of it was commited by the Black Male 13 to 35 years of age (over 95%), a group that over that period was about 15% of the population.Government has no solution to this phenomenon, Black Churches have no effect on this trend. Having a Black Police Chief, a Black Mayor, A Black President has no effect. There are Thousands upon Thousands of Black Citizens in this town that have tried in vain to stop and reverse this trend. all to no avail.
Those that left, left because they know that it is beyond thier control to have an impact on those that do the most harm. It is beyond thier control to cause another person bent on leading a life of crime to change course and lead a normal and productive life. We after all live in a Country that gives us the RIGHT to Free Will, and we have no say in the choices that others make. If someone wants to have ten children out of wedlock ,that is thier right. If someone wants to have five children with no means to support them that is thier right(and our duty to support them),If someone wants to father seven children with six different woman it is thier right.
If we really want to cause a change in the trend that society is going we need to make changes as to how we as a Country deals with this type of behavior. First and formost there needs to be accountability for those that milk the system for thier benifit (and the taxpayers detriment).Unemployment compensation, welfare , food stamps, WIC, ADC, ect. ect. ect. are all good programs that should be used as a short term solution.The last time this Country was in the depths of a Depression and had great numbers of unemployed people we put them to work. We did not give them unemployment checks to stay at home and do nothing. The people got the aid that they needed but at a price, they WORKED FOR IT.All of these social stop gap programs should be given just as before but with one caveat, you work for your benifits that you otherwise would have recieved for free.

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9city_resident(528 comments)posted 5 years, 10 months ago

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
-Benjamin Franklin

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10USMC0331(152 comments)posted 5 years, 10 months ago

If you do nothing wrong then you have nothing to fear!

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11UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Amen brother Bertram - you get it. Why doesn't Mayor Jay & Council do what is necessary to cleanup the streets of Y-town?

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12Silence_Dogood(1677 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago


The above link shows the 25 most dangerous neighborhoods in America according to FBI stats. If you mine thru the data you will find that the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of these areas are area's that have an OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of Black People. People do not want to be a crime stat so they move away from areas that are high risk to crime, and in America that would be Black neighborhoods.
Look at these stats with eyes wide open and you will be shocked, and what you will see is that neighborhoods that have a majority of Blacks, will invariable have a very high incidence of crime.Youngstown is no different. The end result is "white flight", we are undergoing that trend right now in this City, and if these crime numbers dont improve we will no longer be a diverse City but one that resembles Detroit with a Black inner City with a White Suburban area around it. The economic demographics of this white flight and the resultant impact would destroy the City of Youngstown, it would no longer be a viable , self sustaining City. How can this trend be reversed, well the only way would be to bring the crime under control. That will not be attained with someone like Jimmy Hughes in charge of the Police force. To deal with a problem, you first have to understand it and deal with it in all honesty. That is not being done in Youngstown, not in City Hall, not in the Churches, not in the halls of the Vindicator, not in this article by Mr de Sousa.
Mr de Sousa you have walked halfway to the truth, how about you going all the way with what this community needs to hear. How about you drag us kicking and screaming and force us to face that which no one has had the courage up to this point to face and address with all candor and honesty
.If you were to write an article on this subject, place it on the front page calling on the Mayor, City Council,Local Church Leaders, Community Leaders ect. ect. to address this issue, they will not be able to ignore it. Call them out and force this dialog to take place, it is long overdue, and time is something that this town can not afford.

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13Silence_Dogood(1677 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Top ten neighborhoods with breakdowns on demographics.

#1 http://www.neighborhoodscoutreports.c...
#2 http://www.neighborhoodscoutreports.c...
#3 http://www.neighborhoodscoutreports.c...
#4 http://www.neighborhoodscoutreports.c...
#5 http://www.neighborhoodscoutreports.c...
#6 http://www.neighborhoodscoutreports.c...
#7 http://www.neighborhoodscoutreports.c...
#8 http://www.neighborhoodscoutreports.c...
#9 http://www.neighborhoodscoutreports.c...
#10 http://www.neighborhoodscoutreports.c...

I could list the next 15 but they will reflect that which is presented in the top ten, an overwhelming issue in neighborhoods that have large Black populations. The map that was printed a few days ago showing where the deaths occured in Youngstown is a reflection of these areas in Youngstown. This is an issue that cannot be ignored anymore.

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14tiger09roar(9 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

I believe there is to much talk and not enough action !!! I feel the City knows the RIGHT THING TO DO...and does not fight for the resourses to do it...I think it is time they get VOTED OUT...Mabe the Major and his Council Wards are to close to the situation...and you can not write one thing and do another for GAIN...somebody out there has to have YOUNGSTOWN'S BACK

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15walter_sobchak(2727 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago


Politically incorrect and well-stated! We allowed the black families to be destroyed in the 1960's by providing govt. money, food and housing and demanding nothing in return. Now, we are three generations out and these people don't know any other way of living.

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16YSUguins(19 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

I can't believe it. I may need to call 9-1-1. I actually got through a complete Bertram article without wanting to throw up. And worse yet, I actually agree with him on this one.

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17ash29(2 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Hey mrblue, I agree with what you said. How many people should die? Anybody know any online games that are in a tournament format for free other than facebook?

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18LikeaG20(2 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

@Ash29, check out www.gameon247.com I visit this site regularly because they feature blackjack tournaments every 15 minutes!

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