Sunday, September 02, 2007

Residents Rally For Peace After Racially Motivated Arsons

CLEVELAND -- A Cleveland neighborhood is set to come together Thursday night to show support for a family burned out of their home by arsonists.

Investigators are calling the fire a hate crime, and its one of two such arsons in the Tremont neighborhood.

Residents want to send a message tonight to whoever is behind the hateful acts, telling the arsonists that they won't win, reported NewsChannel5's John Kosich.

On July 31, Rogina Weakley awoke to find her West 12th Street home on fire. It took just seconds for the place to go up in flames.

"I looked out of this window and I saw a white T-shirt hanging … it was lit on fire but also the porch was lit on fire and you can see that it was all wet," said Weakley.

The wet stuff was an accelerant, and the fire was an arson. The home was destroyed.

A month earlier, Vanessa Glover's garage had been spray painted with racial graffiti. When the graffiti was painted over, the garage was also set on fire.

"So someone has a problem, a very big one, and I wish they'd hurry up and catch them because I'm scared that it's going to happen again," said Glover.

Two weeks ago, community leaders met with Weakley and Glover. The police commander assured them that the city was doing whatever it takes to catch those responsible, but in doing so, they laid the groundwork for Thursday's Walk For Unity.

"The outrage has been extreme that anybody would do this to these two families, and so it's been interesting. What has been a real crisis seems to be something that the neighborhood is now saying, 'We have to build around this thing,'" said Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman.

The Tremont Unite vigil gets under way at 7 p.m. Thursday. The walk will go from West 11th Street and Starkweather Avenue to West 12th Street and Mentor, where there will be a community peace vigil at 7: 15 p.m.

Source: NewsNet5

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