Toledo police should have done more

Guest Columnist and Guest Columnist

While I am glad that BGNews photographer Eric Steele’s dreams of becoming an action photographer were realized Saturday afternoon, I hope he recognizes the cost that was paid for such an experience.

During the riots an important building was destroyed and a man’s home was lost. The building, Jim ‘#38; Lou’s Bar, was not just a significant cultural meeting place; it was also the home of the owner, my great-uncle, Lou Ratajski. Jim ‘#38; Lou’s Bar was a political stopping point for many candidates throughout the years, including Jimmy Carter and John Glenn. Its owner, Lou, lived above it for almost 50 years.

My problem does not lie with Mr. Steele, but I can hardly agree with his claims that the officers’ response was “a little excessive.” I am less concerned with why the police used the force they did, than with the lack of effective control of the rioters.

Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre claimed that the extra 150 officers on duty prepared them for the event. However, these 150 officers did little to stop the looting and torching of my great-uncle’s home. Horrified, I watched Saturday afternoon as the rioters took the time to shoot off the lock to my great-uncles home, loot it, and set the building on fire. Where were the 150 officers during this time? If the Toledo Police were so prepared, why was the looting and torching of my great-uncle’s home allowed to happen?

I am not trying to claim that I know the steps that should have been taken to prevent the rioting on Saturday, but it is hard to think of the officers’ actions as being “excessive” when so little control was exercised on the rioters. I hope that while Mr. Steele enjoys taking photographs of “war and conflict,” he remembers the victims and loss that are the center of those photographs.


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