The story coming out of Cleveland, OH is a horrific miracle. At this point, things are still early, and I’m sure that the investigations underway will eventually provide us with a much better explanation for how three women were held against their will in an American city for over a decade. While the world is busy looking for explanations, I wanted to take this moment to reflect on what it means to be a neighbor.
The home in the above picture belongs to the main suspect in the kidnappings of Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Georgina “Gina” DeJesus. It is located at 2207 Seymour Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. According to public records, it is owned by Ariel Castro and has four bedrooms in about 1,436 square feet of living space. This isn’t a story about homes, but the people that live in them – Neighbors.
What does it mean to be a Good Neighbor in 2013?
Michelle, Amanda, and Gina all owe their freedom today not only to the actions of Amanda, but also to the 911 call from a neighbor – Charles Ramsey. Charles, according to the news reports I’ve seen, was a relative newcomer to the neighborhood, having lived their only for about the past year.
How could three individuals be held against their will for over a decade in a densely populated neighborhood in a good-sized American city in the heart of the “traditional family values” region of America?
Cleveland is America’s 45th largest city, and the 2nd largest city in Ohio, with just shy of 400,000 people per the 2010 census. This did not happen on a rural farm miles away from strangers. This did not happen in a suburban neighborhood where cars ferry people from garage to job or school in a hermetically sealed hybrid car. This happened less than a mile from the intersection of two freeways that carry thousands of people through Cleveland every day.
What was different about Charles Ramsey that made him call when others didn’t?
He gives a pretty good interview, I’ll give you that. But that doesn’t really tell me much about who he is, and what makes him tick.
How did the cops visit on numerous occasions and not notice anything peculiar?
It would be easy to “blame the professionals” as it appears that police were called to the home on multiple occasions over the years, yet never went inside. Was it a lack of curiosity? A casual indifference to the poverty and dysfunction that police are dropped in the middle of on a regular basis? Or did Ariel know how to keep himself and his house out of policy scrutiny?
Tremont is a neighborhood in the city of Cleveland, Ohio, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Tremont is one of the oldest parts of Cleveland, and is home to many restaurants and art galleries. The district sits just west of the Cuyahoga River and south of the Ohio City neighborhood. Tremont is home to numerous historic churches including Pilgrim Congregational UCC (founded in 1859), St. Augustine (1893), St. John Cantius (1898), and St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Cathedral (1912).
Tremont, was originally part of Brooklyn Township and from 1836 until 1854 was a section of what is now its sister neighborhood, Ohio City. During the early 1850s, the now defunct Cleveland University briefly occupied a section of Tremont. Vestiges of the neighborhood’s days as a college town remain, however, in streets with scholarly names, such as Professor, Literary, College and University.
- The early 20th century saw an influx of Ukrainian immigrants who sought work in the steel mills in the area, and by the 1920s Tremont was home to over 35,000 residents.
- By the 1960s, however, the population had begun to steadily decline. With the loss of manufacturing jobs particularly in Cleveland’s steel industry, culminating in the recession of the early 1980s, Tremont’s population dwindled.
- By the 2000 census there were fewer than 9,000 residents.
- Since the early 2000s, Tremont has reinvented itself and is experiencing a revival.
- Tremont has become a destination spot with numerous restaurants, shops, and art galleries.
Depending on your level of political correctness, and where you sit in the spectrum of American optimism, you may think of Tremont as poor, as gentrifying, or as “urban” (which seems to be code for “non-white”).
What Are Our Neighborly Obligations? Do we have any?
As a general rule, I do my best to mind my business with the assumption that others are also minding their own business. I’m not calling for us all to be nosy neighbors, ready and eager to account for the whereabouts of all our neighbors for the past 72 hours. But surely there must be a middle-ground between not-asking-questions and being the nosy neighbor that everyone dreads. What do you believe our neighborly obligations are?