Rioting teens are “terrorists”?

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Did last week’s Sun Press editorial on July 7th upset anyone but me? In case you missed it, the Sun Press wrote an editorial supporting Cleveland Heights and our response to flash mobs, rioting, unruly teens, and the crimes they have committed.  In the editorial, they  labeled these teens, “terrorists,” and concocted an analogy with 9/11, for some inexplicable reason.  I can’t respond to the Sun Press in print because I am a candidate for City Council in Cleveland Heights, so I thought I’d share my displeasure with this kind of sensationalism with readers of the Heights Observer Blog.

Our city acted decisively to restore order, which the Sun Press editorial supported.  I do, also.  They should have stopped right there.  Instead they went on and labeled these juveniles “terrorists,” which is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.  Yes, these teens committed crimes and behaved like thugs, and innocent people were harmed.  Local businesses have suffered.  Our community was shaken.   That doesn’t make these teenagers “terrorists.”  Not by any stretch of imagination.  There were no bombings or senseless murders.  Out of control delinquents, yes.  Criminals to prosecute, yes.  “Terrorists,” no.

The editorial went on to recommend that we mirror our response to this problem with teenage “terrorists” to our country’s response to 9/11, which is a ridiculous and overblown analogy.  9/11?  Really?  Bring on the predator drones!  Sensationalism still sells newspapers, apparently.

I prefer the saner approach we are taking.  Demonstrating and reinforcing appropriate behavior for teens begins with parents & adults doing so, with support from our city government, law enforcement, local businesses, community leaders and organizations, educators, mentors and the media.  Fear mongering commentary from the Sun Press  contributes nothing positive to the steps we are taking and the discussions we are having to resolve this challenge to our community and restore our way of life.



  1. ClaireR says

    I had a similar reaction to the editorial. Calling the teens “terrorists” is inappropriate. So is calling them “punks” and “thugs.” Adults should refrain from name-calling and have a more civilized discussion.

    • says


      Thanks for your feedback! I agree we should avoid name calling. I did write that the juveniles in question behaved like “thugs”, which is different than calling them “thugs”.

      Mike Gaynier

  2. Ben Phillips says

    Sun’s use of the word terrorists is NOT appropriate. It does a disservice to the issue and is a grave insult to those who perished on 9/11.

    But matters are not helped when we have people like Kathy Wray Coleman turing the flash-mob problem into a race issue. For her to say that the curfew is just a foot in the door to putting African-Americans in the “back of the bus” is a slap at the memory of Rosa Parks and others who have faced real discrimination. Uncivil behavior by unruly mobs of youths is not a racial issue – it is an issue of conduct and it is driven by bad and inattentive parenting. If any of you think thug behavior is a “black” problem, pay a visit to Parma and see the white thugs hanging around Pearl and Ridge Roads.

    The curfew is not perfect, and it seems to me that Cleveland Heights leaders are trying to find their way through a difficult situation. They will undoubtedly tinker with the curfew until the right balance is found. If a law is well intentioned but not perfect, the right solution is to improve the law – not throw it out. The Constitution has been amended time and again over the centuries for the same reason.

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