By Jennifer Carter
I live in Ward 4.
I’ve heard that it is one of the most violent Wards in Cleveland. I’m not sure.
What I do know is that the neighborhood isn’t all bad. However, I believe in part due to the pandemic, it has been getting worse. Walking down South Woodland towards Buckeye, there is a noticeable change. Well-manicured lawns have given way to litter and broken sidewalks. People have told me that this is a rougher part of the neighborhood. I guess. There was a man shot at 125th and Buckeye just over a month ago. I wish I could say that was an isolated incident. Unfortunately, I can’t. Shootings have only increased in the area.
I asked Nichole Brently, of the Buckeye-Woodland area (not her real name to protect her privacy) what it is like where she lives. She told me about something she recently experienced. It was an unseasonably warm day in October. The sun was out and there was a nice breeze when Nichole says she heard a familiar sound. “I thought they were gunshots.” She would later say that at the time she wasn’t sure because just seconds before there was a truck coming down the street that was backfiring loudly and it sounded eerily like gunshots. “We all heard what we thought were gunshots. But we weren’t sure if it was gunshots or the truck. It wasn’t until some other people I was with saw someone running with their gun out, that confirmed it.” Nichole was one of four people in a socially distanced group who were out for a walk that day. She lives in the neighborhood and is well aware of its issues.
Nichole hears gunshots regularly. “Not too much,” she says thoughtfully, “At least four or five times a month, especially during the day time. Enough for it to be a concern.” When I asked how it makes her feel she said, “It’s very distressing. It makes you feel like you can’t go about your day, not safely. You don’t know when it’s going to happen.”
Nichole says that she likes the neighborhood despite everything because of the good neighbors. “We look out for each other on my street. We genuinely care about where we live. We will call the police when necessary.”
I have walked down those streets. Even with the dilapidated, abandoned buildings literally crumbling into pieces, there is still a lot to celebrate.
Edwin’s has a bakery and butcher shop located on Buckeye Road. It is spacious with a relaxing atmosphere. It is a nice alternative to the big-name grocery stores. Aesthetically, it adds a lot to the neighborhood as well. They also have prepared food, much different from the basic and boring fast-food restaurants that dominate the area. The residential streets boast vibrancy and beauty. Most of the homes are taken care of, and some are absolutely stunning. It’s obvious, from the neatly groomed flowers to the people that there is life here. I’ve learned from talking to people many have lived in and owned their homes for decades. They still like the area even though they too have noticed a decline.
Most of the residential streets are quiet. On a sunny day, people can be seen relaxing on their porches or working in their yards. They tell me about the trouble they’ve had with the city trying to get issues resolved, but with the issues, one thing that I heard over and over from the people I talked to is “we’re trying.”
“No bomb is more dangerous than people that are hopeless” said Councilman Basheer Jones of Ward 7.
I believe that the pockets of violence that occur in the area are a reflection of some people losing hope. However, we still have a lot of people here fighting for a good life. “We’re trying.” It is because of that, I won’t give up on Ward 4 not now, not ever.