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Stop harassment by police, group demands at Youngstown City Hall



Published: Fri, July 20, 2012 @ 12:08 a.m.

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About a dozen people demonstrated outside Youngstown City Hall on Thursday in support of Desiree Johnson, here with sign. Along with Benjamin Roberts and Doretha Weston, they say they have faced harassment from Youngstown police.

By John W. Goodwin Jr.

jgoodwin@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Desiree Johnson and about two dozen supporters held signs and walked outside City Hall on Thursday to protest the treatment of young black males like her son, and the harassment she says her family has faced from Youngstown police.

Johnson, 45, and her friend Doretha Weston, 35, will be sentenced today on misdemeanor charges of obstructing official business, assault on an officer and resisting arrest after an altercation with police in a 2011 traffic stop.

Johnson said the issue with police began before that stop. She said the protest centered around police treatment of her 15-year-old son Benjamin “Benji” Roberts, who was stopped at gunpoint by police in 2009 when he was 12.

The officers who stopped Johnson and Weston are the same officers who earlier stopped her son, she said.

Johnson has sued the city over the issue involving her son. That matter is still in court.

Johnson in 2009 said Benji had gone down the street from their home to play basketball, but she realized he had not cleaned up his bedroom and had his sister go down the street to get him so he could finish his chores.

Benji, accompanied by the family’s large mixed-breed dog, Lucky, ran home at his mother’s request. He was met in the rear of the home by several police officers with their guns drawn.

Police said officers were in the area investigating alleged drug sales by minors. They also said the unleashed dog gave officers reason to fear for their safety.

Benji was not found to have done anything wrong.

Johnson said the protest Thursday and today outside city hall is about protecting innocent young people.

“What I hope comes out of this is that, no matter what happens to me [in court Friday], we can come together as a community and look out for our kids like my son Benji,” said Johnson.

Johnson said there was a time in the black community when all kids were looked after by every member of the community.

“We lost that as a community, and we really need to get it back,” she said.

Johnson, accompanied by her son and Weston, along with a host of supporters donned white and black outfits and walked along the sidewalks outside city hall for several hours Thursday and are expected to return today.

The signs held by supporters included phrases such as “stop the unjust treatment of just us” and “there is no justice, just us.”


Comments

1Knightcap(682 comments)posted 2 years ago

This story is a toss up with the fella who spoke at the library on Bigfoot. I'm leaning toward Sasquatch on which one is more believable.

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2hmm(179 comments)posted 2 years ago

And these are the same ..people that will.be at a crime scene .... And " no see not ton". And demand justice Here's some facts mommy and friend protesters.... majority of crime is caused by young black males , police were checking on illegal activity, and there is a leash.law in Youngstown . Kid can't be too law abiding if he assaulted an officer , obstructed official business , resisted arrest AS WELL AS the traffic stop ( maybe loud music).

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3Guins(13 comments)posted 2 years ago

Don't worry when the police leave them alone and let their community care for it's self they will demand justice and blame the police for being racist and not caring about the black community.

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4Lifes2Short(3875 comments)posted 2 years ago

"Johnson said there was a time in the black community when all kids were looked after by every member of the community.
“We lost that as a community, and we really need to get it back,” she said.""

Who's fault is that?? Society's??? Get real, the blacks are to blame for that, not society. Again with so many excuses.

""Johnson said the protest Thursday and today outside city hall is about protecting innocent young people.""

You look like fools. Teach the young wanna be gangstas right from wrong and you wouldn't have to have your stupid protest. Quit blaming everyone else, look in the mirror and be held accountable for your young hoodlums.

When they going to start selling tshirts of Benji and Lucky? bahahaha

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5grg019(34 comments)posted 2 years ago

@ hmm, you gotta read the story, the kid was only 12, and got called back home to finish his chores to find police with guns drawn out. He didn't assult the officer, the mother and friend did. And wow you put the poor kid behind the wheel before 16 with loud music? like all young guys don't play it. By the way, if you look in the hard times paper, majority of crime is committed my males period.

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6Bozz(11 comments)posted 2 years ago

Stopping law breakers and unrully people is not harassment, its what they are suppose to do. I suppose when the cops had to intervene in the massive brawls at the festival at Southern Park mall a year or so ago, they were just harassing them bc they were black, right?

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7Sunny(25 comments)posted 2 years ago

I understand a mother's concern for guns being drawn on a 12-year old child. However, there was a big dog that was not on a leash AND these police officers were investigating crime perpetrated by YOUNG males. They want to go home at the end of the shift. You can't blame them for wanting to protect themselves.They have families too!

If anything, this mother should be thankful that YPD was working hard to keep her neighborhood safe. After all, her boy was running around all by himself and was perfect pickins' for predators of any type. Had this mother been a positive role model, she would have used this as a learning opportunity to show him what could happen when he's running between homes. Instead, she chose to assault the officers in FRONT of her boy!

When will the black community learn that they must hold themselves and each other responsible for the way they are viewed by society? If you look like a thug, act like a thug and hang out on the streets all night long - you're gonna be pegged as a thug!

However, if you parent your children properly and hold them accountable rather than making excuses for them and if you are a positive role model rather than act like a child yourself - I guarantee you these changes will have a positive effect in your home, on the streets, and in your community.

We as a society are sick of the constant excuses for poor behavior. If you want to be treated with respect, you must BEHAVE as a person WORTHY of respect! It's time to hold yourselves responsible individually and as a group. Don't you see that you are only hurting yourselves, your children and your future?

And, while I'm at it, people like Jesse Jackson are hurting your community because they only come around when they smell a story that will bring them some notoriety. If they really cared, they would stress the importance of family, following the law, working hard and getting an education.

Moral of the story: When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequence. Don't your children deserve better?

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8allstar720(246 comments)posted 2 years ago

These people should protest against harassment at the next funeral for the next drug dealer to get killed in Youngstown because that's their real enemy.

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9lumper(281 comments)posted 2 years ago

" GET OFF WELFARE AND GET A JOB " demands group of normal people !!!!

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10shutyourface(246 comments)posted 2 years ago

Wow...clueless in Youngstown

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11zz3(921 comments)posted 2 years ago

Here we go again the black community crying "were being picked on" Of course it seems that way since your community and the people in it are responsible for most all of the crime and prison population!!! Get real. I thing most normal people are just fed up with the constant excuses. I like the response from hmmm is correct here are the people bitch@n that won't give up one of their homies for a crime but want to bit#h about when it hits home. Get the drift "PEOPLE ARE FED UP WITH THE EXCUSES" weve heard them all believe me. Make your own community responsible for theirselves how about that for an idea!!! If you have nothing to hide don't worry about it. WERE FED UP!!!!

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12Ianacek(891 comments)posted 2 years ago

Mulligan & Mercer were also the 2 officers Desiree Johnson complained about in the incident with her 12 year old son in 2009 at their home.

The officers claimed at the recent trial they didn't recognise Johnson from the 2009 incident ; but they prevented the women calling 911 from the scene, which would have enabled other officers to deal with the situation.

There should be lessons for YPD in this affair

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13doowoptokidrock(325 comments)posted 2 years ago

Desiree learned her lesson and her reward is almost 1 year in jail.The other loser will get her jail sentence next month.Good job YPD and the judge.

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14GeorgeSands(16 comments)posted 2 years ago

The parents are correct in protesting the treatment of their sons by the police in Youngstown, But let's be clear. This is not just a Youngstown problem. Police from LA to NYC go after teenagers.

Why? Because teens are easy targets. False claims can be made against them and who will the authorities believe? Not the teen. Most importantly, arresting a teen is time consuming.

Years ago, after conducting research that showed that communities protected by the county police in Miami Dade arrest teens at alarming rates whereas teens from communities that hired their own police department have dramatically lower numbers of charges written against teens. After talking to a police investigator who explained that an arrest of a juvie is time consuming, I understood. Now I get it. Cops can spend safe time on the job by arrest ing teens, which is much safer than going after 30 year old, gun-carrying career criminals.

With this in mind, then, one can see that this is not a racial issue. It is a youth issue and it calls into question work ethics and codes that promise to protect and serve.

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15CountryGirl51(189 comments)posted 2 years ago

You certainly can not find fault in the Police having their guns out. I would too ...going behind a house that they knew there was a large dog not on a leash ! And as far as the boy...they were just doing there jobs since there was a problem with drugs pertaining to youngsters. If you dont do anything wrong...then you should have no problem !!!

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16southsidedave(4777 comments)posted 2 years ago

If you don't like being harassed by the police, stop committing crimes...makes sense to me!

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17Lifes2Short(3875 comments)posted 2 years ago

sands

"Cops can spend safe time on the job by arrest ing teens, which is much safer than going after 30 year old, gun-carrying career criminals.""

Are you serious? Look at the stats of teenagers walking around with guns, shooting up houses, parties, people, etc. This breed of animals are alot more dangerous then the older criminals, alot more dangerous! They have NO respect for human life whatsoever.
Climb out from the rock your living in. smh at such stupidity in society today.

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18chevelle64(11 comments)posted 2 years ago

what a tough life it must be to be born black in a black neighborhood in a city like youngstown, I know it is no excuse for the crimes but imagine what it must be like to always be a suspect simply because of the color of your skin, and no hope to move to a better neighborhood .

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19Lifes2Short(3875 comments)posted 2 years ago

chev

"....but imagine what it must be like to always be a suspect simply because of the color of your skin, and no hope to move to a better neighborhood ."

Why are there more blacks that don't get in trouble or have to deal with courts,lawyers, judges,police, etc? How come there all alot of blacks that live in good neighborhoods and live a productive life and are a benefit to society??
Funny that everyone thinks there suspects because there black, is such a simple answer, QUIT getting into trouble, from the parents to there hoodlums. It's always the same ones everytime there is a homicide or on the police blotter, all of them have EXTENSIVE CRIMINAL BACKGROUNDS! Don't that say something? You think it's only because there black? Get real skippy!
Go walk on the south side after midnight, if your white, you won't get out alive. That's OK huh?
Quit using the black race card, because it's just a EXCUSE!! Stay out of trouble and it don't matter if your white,black,orange,silver,blue, etc.

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20zz3(921 comments)posted 2 years ago

I'M COMMITTING A CRIME AND THE POLICE WANT TO PICK ON ME!!! Come on people we have to start sticking up for these people! can't you see they are not arresting people for NOT committing crimes, theres the injustice. PLEASE Do the people who defend these cockroaches and ones like them ever read their comments and how stupid they sound to normal thinking people, If they only knew. Kudo's to the officers. Really they took the cell phone off her while arresting them, HOW RUDE LOL

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