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Occupy Y’town in the Hood

Published: Sun, November 20, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

Private sector working stiffs (those in the public sector defy description) could be forgiven for harboring unkind thoughts as they maneuvered around the “Occupy Youngstown” campsite in the heart of downtown Youngstown. Going to work each day to a job that may not exist tomorrow, keenly aware that wage freezes and other compensation sacrifices are long-term propositions (not in the public sector, of course) is today’s reality for most people. An esoteric discussion of wealth, the basis of the national and international Occupy movement — it began with Occupy Wall Street a couple of months ago — is cause for heartburn.

Why don’t those people do something useful with their time? That’s an understandable reaction from people who don’t have the luxury of sitting around grousing about the inequities in life.

This isn’t about denying American citizens the right to express themselves through protests on the streets. And it certainly isn’t about being dismissive of the protesters’ contention that the concentration of this nation’s wealth has widened the gap between the haves and have-nots.

It’s simply that people who work each day have little patience for those who are able to but don’t.

PR nightmare

The gathering in Central Square in downtown Youngstown was intriguing when Occupy Youngstown was launched and drew the attention of the press. Now, it has become a public relations nightmare for the participants. When city government told them to take down their tent and to get rid of the burn barrel, they charged that their First Amendment rights were being violated. The city didn’t prohibit them from demonstrating; it only said they weren’t allowed to become a nuisance.

But, if the Occupy Youngstown participants are determined to have a presence in the city 24 hours a day, seven days a week, here’s a suggestion: They should set up camp in the Hood.

Indeed, they could spend a week at a time occupying high-crime neighborhoods — to send this message to law-abiding residents who are prisoners in their homes: We care about you and are here to take back the streets.

Talk about attracting national attention.

There are at least 28 street gangs in the city — minus the three national biker gangs — with each one having its own territory.

The most publicized is the LSP, which has operated in the lower South Side in an area centered on Laclede, Sherwood, Parkview and Princeton avenues. Over the summer, the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force’s Gang Unit, along with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies conducted a major assault on the LSP. In May, 31 individuals, including 29 who were identified as being gang members, were charged with federal and state crimes.

And while the crackdown has resulted in the LSP territory being cleaned up of much of the human vermin, residents still live in fear.

Having the Occupy Youngstown tent and burn barrel in the South Side neighborhoods would provide a desperately needed psychological boost — for the residents and the protesters.

Rather than milling around twiddling their thumbs, the folks who so passionately talk about the unfairness of a rich vs. poor society could truly make a difference. The protesters could make house calls, listening to the horror stories from elderly Youngstowners too afraid to sit on their front porches in the summer because of gangbangers shooting it out on the streets.They could hear from mothers who have lost sons, and girls who have been preyed upon by the gangstas.

And they could go on patrols with block watch members to get a first-hand look at what it’s really like to live in poverty.

Ayers Street Playas

After their South Side excursion, the Occupy Youngstown folks could move their tent show to the East Side, where the Ayers Street Playas gang once held sway. Several years ago, Ashanti Bunch, a former leader of the gang, was arrested on charges of illegal possession of a weapon, drug abuse-marijuana and two counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs. Another ex-member, Thomas Moses, was charged with aggravated trafficking in drugs, illegal possession of a weapon and possession of cocaine. If you’re going to Occupy Youngstown, wouldn’t you want to find out what makes the city tick? Sitting or standing or sleeping in Central Square is a waste of human capital.


1AtownAugie(804 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Taking nominations for someone to take the lead in this noble endavor, Mr de Souza? If so, I suggest state senator Bob Hagan. He consistently has shown a desire to be out front -- witness the gas station manifesto he gave, and his initial (albeit fleeting) support of his fellow travelers in Central Square. Out front always -- especially after telling the local video news crews when and where he'll be -- before or after steeling himself with liquid courage. Hagan could bring a good deal of publicity to the Hood -- witness how he even got the news crews to turn into an "innocent victim story" his getting decked after mouthing off at wanting the best "belly dancer oogling angle" at his fave haunt, The Lemon Grove. Yes, Bob could get his fellow travelers to "Occupy the Hood" with him, and call them "Hagan's Heroes." What better place to serve as his "Hagan for Mayor" headquarters?

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2author50(1121 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

In the hood, they could call their tarps and burn barrel "Hagan's Homes".

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3Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

"The gathering in Central Square in downtown Youngstown was intriguing "

Intriguing no amusing yes . So you propose to send them to the SouthSide Hood to hang out ? The culture would run them out . The last thing the hood wants is publicity to interfere with life as usual . Now the EastSide would work out with the occupation hanging out at the McGuffy Plaza . Who knows the publicity may even revive the place .

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4Alexinytown(246 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

The problems plaguing this city are beyond the help of outside influence, Occupy Youngstown included. The problems of this city cannot be solved by throwing money at them.

The only way the inner city is going to pull itself back is by the will of the people living there. They have to WANT the change for themselves in order for change to occur.

That is a problem with a lot of the local neighborhood anc charity organizations. They have done everything from providing food to actually cleaning up the neighborhoods.

And that is great for what they are doing.

But they are not teaching these people to improve their situation. Rather they are teaching these people reliance on the system, and that further compounds the problem.

I'm not sure what the answer is to the poverty problem in Youngstown, but teaching reliance on this system is not the answer.

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5captdinger(108 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Make sense to me. Excellent article. I also agree with the "Stan Man", these people, excuse me, "Wanna Be's" wouldn't last in the hood. They would be gone in no time. Which is what should have happened when they were downtown.

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6redvert(2186 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

If they do decide to camp in the Hood I would be willing to donate a tent or two and a barrel. I would suggest that someone donate a case or two of Depends because I am sure some of these little "47%ers" will be marking their laundry in the middle of the night at the first sound of gunfire.

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7rbaymp(2 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Once again Bert I have to question your ability to listen, learn and even form a coherient opinion. Your article on the Occupy movement shows your disconnect from even the simplist of messages that has repeatedly be handed to you on a silver platter. What escapes you is that The Occupy Movement is not about politics, but you still are unable to wrap your mind around this simplist of messages. Or perhaps you are just unwilling to do so. But the real crime here is that a person of your position is dong your jobi n a very irresponsible way. Do Mahoning Valley a big favor and just go away

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8essen(9 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Dear Bert the Turtle: Take you head out of your shell. You never miss a chance to slag off public workers. YSU professors accepted 2 years of wage freezes along with benefit reductions. Facts are tough to deal with when you have your head up your ....shell.

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9AnotherAverageCitizen(1176 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Just the title of the article tells me, this man should not be writing for a newspaper. This article is ignorant and way off base. The "occupy group" has nothing to do with going away from the downtown area. Occupy is to bring attention to the 1-3% not wanting to pay livable wages while taking millions in bonuses themselves. "Occupy group" has nothing to do with crime going on in Ytown.

Let the rich become richer and the poor become poorer. Eliminate the middle class--the Repubs way-- Just like I read in another newspaper a while ago, a republican way of reducing the unemployemennt. He was willing to eliminate the minimum wage so he could hire 2 people at $3.50 an hour instead of one at $7.00 an hour. That way he would put more people to work. Too bad nobody could afford to live like he would want them to.

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10doubled(210 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Desouza says...."Private sector working stiffs (those in the public sector defy description)..."

Perhaps I should try out my my descriptive abilties...Let's see. Desouza is a piece of (insert foul sounding and smelling word here)..

Sorry Bert, I tried to come up with a description for you, but it just simply defied me.

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11doubled(210 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

jessiedavid--- did you just honestly say that ..."The fact is, only Patriotic Tea Party supporters are with God's help, standing up with courage, digntiy and conviction, to the masses of greedy, self serving politicians.""

Really?? Is there something wrong with you?? I mean, really, is there some mental problems that we should know about so that when you post we can take that into account...Based on your post, I think it's a reasonable question.

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12Nonsocialist(710 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

The OWS-villes have been associated with deaths, rapes, drug abuse and trafficking, injured policemen, vandalism, littering and body odor like you read about. Haven't the folks in the poor neighborhoods suffered enough?

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13Askmeificare(810 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Yes, yes, yes.

Another great article Bertram.

I couldn't have said it better.

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14doubled(210 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

No jessiedavid, i'm not...in fact, I don't follow anyone and I don't work for anyone (other than my customers)...I lean progressive, but I think for myself...and the only thing i am truly commited to when it comes to politics, is pointing out lies and bullsht...and it doesn't matter to me where it comes from...I'm compelled to call it out and stop it in its tracks....it's just that over the past year or two, the main culprits have been on your side of the aisle...so when i call you and yours out for pimping your dishonest and disingenious tea party agenda you can come at me all you want, I will take on all comers. But perhaps, in the end, you and yours would be better served if you first attempted to identify the character flaw within yourselves, which allows you to stand up and spew lies on a daily basis -- and at least try to put an end to the constant lying to simply forward a political agenda. It's embarrasing, and I'm embarrased for you.

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15pgurney(292 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

@ redvert - I wish to God they would put a "LIKE" or Thumbsup system on here. You would have gotten one from me. Depends indeed....... LOL.

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16howardinyoungstown(591 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

@Jessiedavid, have you looked in a mirror recently re: post #20

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