It was not racism in Toledo

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 21, 2005

Lou Ratajski is 86 years old. Last Saturday Lou lost everything he had when mobs looted and burned his little neighborhood tavern in the LaGrange neighborhood of Toledo, Ohio. The media blamed it on a race riot. It wasn’t – it was a thugfest, an orgy of gang violence and thievery.

Lou owned Jim and Lou’s Sportsmans Club, the building that was broken into, looted and then set on fire by hordes of gang members and other criminals as millions of shocked viewers across the nation watched on their television screens.

Suhkdev Singh Khalsa owns the convenience store at an American Petroleum gas station in Toledo. Out-of-control mobs wrecked and looted his store, causing about $170,000 in damages and losses.

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Thomas Frisch, 76, told reporters that a large group of men destroyed the exterior of a gas station next to his home of 30 years.

“A whole big gang started to come in here,” he told CNN. “Next thing you know, they’re jumping on the car. Then they overturned it. Then they started on the building, breaking windows, ripping the bars off.”

Despite what the media are claiming, none of what happened had anything to do with racism and everything to do with criminality.

This incident, which grew out of a planned march by 14 neo-Nazi members of the absurd National Socialist Movement of Roanoke, Va., played right into the hands of a liberal national media intent on exacerbating the whole race issue whenever an opportunity to do so arises.

Given a permit to stage a march through the mixed-race neighborhood, the tiny band of neo-Nazis was confronted by some 300 local protesters and 70 outsiders representing everything from anti-war activism to anarchy. Among them was also a contingent of skinheads.

When the protesters began throwing bottles and rocks at the neo-Nazis, Police Chief Mike Navarre instructed the neo-Nazis to return to their cars and leave Toledo. That should have ended the near-riot, but it didn’t. The mob then turned on the police, hurling rocks and bottles at them.

Mayor Jack Ford, Toledo’s first African-American mayor, took a bullhorn and confronted the mob, which included a man standing a few feet away and menacingly wearing a black ski mask with a revolver stuck in his waistband. He tried to calm the mob, which continued to pelt him and the police.

Ford blamed the rioting on gangs that took advantage of a volatile situation. ”It’s exactly what they wanted,” Ford told reporters, adding that they were mostly “gang members who had real or imagined grievances and took it as an opportunity to speak in their own way.

“I am disappointed that some folks who clearly are not strong citizens to begin with took this opportunity to make this statement,” Ford said. “I was chagrined that there were obvious mothers and children in the crowd with them. Several intimated that they had guns.”

That’s putting it mildly. These were not simply weak citizens, they were the dregs of society doing what they do best, preying upon innocent members of both the black and white communities.

When the neo-Nazis left without marching, why did some blacks pillage their own part of town? If it was a matter of race hatred, why didn’t they invade a totally white neighborhood to vent their so-called anger?

What you had were the dregs of both sides looking for an excuse to do bad things, neo-Nazis on one side, gang-bangers on the other. One side wanted to create a racial backlash, and the other side wanted to loot their own neighborhood.

The media portray the incident as a race issue when it was simply a matter of bad people doing bad things. There are bad people who are white and there are bad people who are black. Not every bad thing involving the races that happens is an issue of race. In the case of Toledo, it was a case of out-of-control thuggery – the scum rising to the top.

Mike Reagan, the eldest son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is heard on more than 200 talk radio stations nationally as part of the Radio America Network. Look for Mike’s new book “Twice Adopted”. Order autographed books at Email Comments to .