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Cleveland in the news again


It seems like Cleveland, Ohio is in the news only when something bad happens. It’s interesting to me because I’m working there at the moment.

The latest news is the story of Ariel Castro, a 52-year-old Puerto Rican schoolbus driver who has been charged with kidnapping and rape of three women (Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus) who were kept prisoner in his home for as long as 11 years.

A string of house explosions (here and here and here and here) was of note a couple of years ago. Some of them seemed accidental. The one in Hinckley was very suspicious, but I don’t think anything came of it.

Then there was Anthony Sowell, who was sentenced to death in 2011 after being found guilty of killing 11 women and burying them in the walls of his home and in his yard.

Castro’s and Sowell’s homes are close to my workplace, which I find disturbing.

Cleveland is a “hardscrabble” town (as noted in a recent news story). “Hardscrabble” is a polite word for “poor.” It’s a Rust Belt town. Many of the heavy industries that birthed it have disappeared. It’s difficult to find a job, and the people I know who work here have commutes as long as 150 km each way. Unemployment is officially 7 percent, though the U6 rate is closer to 14 percent. Hundreds of thousands of residents have left since the 1980s, and that decline continues, though the city recently claimed the population is rising again.

Most people I have met in Cleveland are nice, though. It’s just unfortunate that a town that’s down on its luck only gets noticed when bad things happen there.

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