Tensions Still Brewing in Mt. Pleasant

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The yellow police tape that has marked the Anthony Sowell house as a crime scene for over a week is now stretched across Imperial Avenue, ostensibly to block the parade of cars from around the city that have been driving by to catch a glimpse of the home of a suspected serial killer. But, this road block appeared without any warning to people who live in the neighborhood.

ADA AVERYHART: And that bothers me.

Longtime resident Ada Averyhart says it's just one of a number of longstanding disconnects between the community and city government. She maintains there's a distinct impression of indifference to neighborhood needs --- in everything from policing to housing inspections. She sees that symbolized by the presence of an abandoned elementary school that takes up an entire block, just a few houses down from here --- a potential magnet for criminal activity.

ADA AVERYHART: That should not just be standing there. This wouldn't happen in Beachwood or west side Lakewood.

Looking to spur more action from City Hall to some community concerns, a small group of protestors staged a demonstration downtown, yesterday afternoon. Kathy Wray Coleman said it's going to take more than candlelight vigils to ease the anger.

KATHY WRAY COLEMAN: We're calling on Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson and City Council to adopt ordinances that address what's going on in terms of missing persons. We want an ordinance where they respond within a certain time, we want education and training for the police force to be more sensitive to these issues.

Area social service agencies have sprung into action to deal with other tensions and fears that may be bubbling below the surface. At a community meeting at the Mt. Pleasant Library last night, the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center announced that a fulltime counselor will be stationed at the nearby Murtis Taylor Social Center to help area residents directly or indirectly impacted by the Anthony Sowell case. In addition, a Shaker Heights-based family counseling group is setting up shop tomorrow in a Mt. Pleasant church.

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