Uber-bored Explode onto Coventry

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Teens look forward to visiting Coventry for fun - is Coventry looking forward to the teens?

My last entry was posted at the beginning of June and as the school year was winding to a close. In it, I encouraged Cleveland Height residents to offer employment options to local teenagers in an effort to occupy their free time and to keep them busy, hence the title – Keep Heights Beautiful – because whether we’d rather admit it or not, bored teenagers and lots of idle time can be a recipe for all sorts of not-so-fun stuff, such as property damage and fighting.

Well, there are some things that aren’t looking too fun this summer.

For the second time (that I am aware of) this month, Cleveland Heights’ riot truck has been spotted parked on Coventry Road in an effort to waylay potential troublemakers from taking liberties with their idle time, the latest occurrence being after the Coventry Street Fair on June 26th. Unconfirmed by police but witnessed by personal associates was the use of force against teenagers after a sound such as that of gunfire occurred. The first occurrence approximately two weeks ago appears to have been spurred by technology. Research (meaning a call to CHPD and perusing of my daughter’s facebook page) shows that there was an active campaign  to initiate a derivative of a flash mob/kickback party.  I was there during part of this event to check on my children and witnessed the crowd firsthand. The sight was overwhelming as hundreds of teenagers packed Coventry from Euclid Heights Boulevard to Mayfield. From what I witnessed, there was not much interest by the teenagers in causing much more than revelry during this “kickback”, but hundreds of any bodies jam packed on Coventry makes for an uncomfortable evening regardless.

It is my belief that many of these kids strolling up and down Coventry are looking for something to do. They’re bored and Coventry, with its eclectic and Bohemian atmosphere, is the type of area where people can congregate with no specific purpose in mind. Locals more saturated in the area’s history than, I touted a time when Coventry was likened to the west coast haven of Haight Ashbury, where hippies and flower power reigned. I imagine during that time, there were some instances of not-so-fun stuff as well, when local merchants and residents weren’t fond of sharing their environment with purposeful-less, unemployed and ungrounded young adults who were as anti-establishment and anti-capitalistic as they have always been portrayed. They share a bit of commonality with the bored teenagers of today – non-consumerists with too much free time on their hands, except that one group was a bit more pale than the other. But I don’t think that mattered much in the categorization of ne’er-do-wells versus do-wells.

As we venture further into the dog days of summer, it is my hope that if the recent assemblages are perceived as hindrances to the vitality of the Coventry area, we become as proactive as possible to offer alternatives other than simply parking a riot truck in front of Marc’s. The events of the past few weeks have aroused concern for a good number of parents. I admittedly am not aware to what degree the saturation of teens has affected local merchants or whether rumors and retelling are completely accurate, but we must acknowledge that Coventry is appealing for a reason. I too have spent many an evening drifting from one shop to another for hours on end. So have my children. If the area is to remain vibrant, it must be able to attract its base while at the same time effectively managing those who may not yet have the resources to invest in the area to the degree that we might prefer.

If there are troublemakers, deal with the troublemakers on a case-by-case basis. But let’s look for ways to share a community jewel while at the same time engendering a sense of community in our students who are well on their way to becoming productive citizens.







  1. inorbit says

    Apparently this was a flash mob generated by social media. The question is: How do we stop it? If they can do this to the Coventry Street Fair they can do it to any gathering this summer.

  2. fred_53_99 says

    I moved to university Hts to live in an environment of diversity. If I wanted the ghetto experience I would have stayed in Cleveland and paid less taxes. Due to sec 8 I now have the ghetto experience and high taxes.I was up there on sunday and noticed the gathering of teens in thepark/playground.Unemplyment wasn’t the issue, it was a Sunday.The issue was several of these teens think to be black is to be a thug.To be loud,unruly and generally obnoxious is keeping it real.Most of the teens were most likely residents.If the street fair is ended this element will have won.Block off the street ,charge admission,put volunteers on the street as eyes and earsfor the police,close the playground.shorten the hours .The fair is one of the things that make life in the heights plesant the, quality of life must be maintained if we are to contune to have community worth living in.How long t will people come to or live in a community that is not considered safe? At the risk of being called a racist Im black man ..

    • says

      I don’t mean to imply that unemployment is the cause for the ruckus on Sunday or for any ruckus but simply that being economically vested in an area tends to create and foster a sense of responsibility, value and attachment. The more of those meaningful attachments that are instilled in Cleveland Heights’ residents (be it adult or child), the better it is for all of us.

      Inorbit, I agree with Fred’s suggestions for managing the next Coventry Fair. Blocking off streets, charging admission, using volunteers, etc are all changes that can be quickly and cost-effectively implemented. I hope all with concerns and suggestions are able to attend the emergency council meeting to help address these issues.

      From the social aspect of it, I have a bit of a problem agreeing with all of Fred’s points. Fred, you state that the mindset of these teens is to think that being black is to be a thug. You then state that most of the teens at the event were most likely residents. If that is your stance, do you conclude that the presence of University Heights/Cleveland Heights black youth was the cause for the ruckus? Or was the ruckus the result of a mindset in general, regardless of borders?

      If the issue is a general mindset, regardless of the borders, then University Heights is no more of a safe haven than anywhere else. If your conclusion is that University Heights/Cleveland Heights youth were the cause, then that is unfortunate because I tend to think rather highly of the kids in this area; however, there are some viable options to addressing the factions that caused the ruckus. One observation is that University Heights/Cleveland Heights children be held accountable through the purse strings of their parents, as it is probably easier for law enforcement to identify and locate the residents of its area.

      I understand that the majority ethnicity was of black youth and I agree that there is too much violence and thuggery (if that’s a word) that’s marketed and branded to this group. But it has been the American status quo that youth – be they black, white, hispanic, etc – go through a period of counter-culture during their teen years. What happened Sunday was unnecessary, silly, stupid, ignorant, irritating, a pain in the butt even. But I have a problem saying that the ruckus, teen behavior or any other ill-desired behavior is “ghetto”.

      It becomes a slippery slope when causalities are drawn between undesirable behavior and being of a certain ethnicity, in this case, being African-American. For a too-long-to-type-about reason, the word “ghetto” has evolved to infer a type of undesired behavior brought about by black people. In fairness, Fred, I do not know if this is the way you are using the word. But my daughters and friends were at the Coventry Fair as well. This means that despite me and my husband’s decade long investment in karate & gymnastics, in addition to their merit rolls, honor rolls, and dedication to Heights choirs, they were perceived, treated and assumed to be “ghetto” by people who draw on this inference.

      I would have no problem if “ghetto” was truly being used to describe undesirable behavior, but the social connotation and implication are soooo much more than that and we all know it. There are issues of socio-economic class – characteristics and qualities of learned behavior that come from the grooming that economic (in)stability, social norms and social pressure engender. But the word ghetto elicits the perception of race.

      That puts the well meaning, well behaved black children in a no-win situation. Why? You’ve already written them off with all the stigma encrypted into the word “ghetto” so the motivation to display appropriate behavior, demonstrate their investment in the area, continue with their parents’ teachings, etc becomes marginalized and undercut by the village. But that assumes that the village believes that they should participate in shaping the social norms of its children.

      But that’s why I moved to Heights. When my children talk to adults, adults encourage them to speak for themselves. Adults insist that my children look them in the eyes when speaking. Adults correct them for dropping litter. Adults congratulate them for making good grades. Adults advise us when it seems my children are doing something out of line with our teaching.

      I guess the question becomes, after Sunday’s incident, does Heights still want to be the village?

      To blanket the incident, or any incident, as being ghetto and/or unmanageable is the fault of the community, not the children. It is the fault of the majority, not the trouble-making few. As I look around University and Cleveland Heights, the area is well slanted towards the majority being hardworking, decent, law-abiding households. If the majority is appropriate, then use the majority to dictate what is acceptable. To assume a sense of powerlessness when it comes to undesirable behavior (especially that of children) through complaint-only responses is an act of powerlessness and I don’t understand why this is so. Do we assume the purchasing power of our tax dollars can buy 100% security and a worry-free lifestyle? If so, this is lackadaisical citizenry at its best.

  3. 50william says

    Lest we forget:
    What happens if the thugs take over?? Remember the B P Riverfest in the flats in Cleveland. GONE GONE GONE
    I was not on Coventry last weekend but have attended many of the streetfairs including the first one! As a CHHS Class of ’68 I remember when Coventry was an old “Jewish Shopkeeping Area”, the ‘kids’ discovering Coventry, the then ‘older generation’ when the pizza shop opened & you could get a slice of pizza at 4:55 A M !! and other changes.
    I will attend the next streetfair!!!!!!!
    Why I was not on Coventry last sunday. I was in Columbus for pleasure & walked through Comfest. For those who have not been to Comfest picture it as a 3 day community festival in a 10 acre park with 20+ bands, booths & BEER SALES which has been held for almost 40 years. There is also 1 major difference at Comfest that those who have been there know about & I will not ‘exopse’.
    What is Coventry’s future? B P Riverfest?? Comfest ???
    william CHHS 1968

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