Breakdown of Neighborhood Connectivity


Seymour street sign more smallerThe story is unbelievable!  Three women are found alive in a home on Cleveland’s West Side after being missing for a decade.

Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were allegedly held captive in a house on Seymour Avenue and repeatedly beaten and raped by 52-year-old Ariel Castro.  They emerged from the shadows on Monday, May 6, 2013 after a neighbor helped Berry break free and call 911.

Neighborhood residents are shocked.  How could three women, just teenagers and one a young adult when they disappeared, be held at a home for so long without anyone noticing?  Ironically, the home is in the same neighborhood where Berry and DeJesus went missing.

Did a breakdown in the sense of community play a role in the prolonged captivity of the three women?  Nineteen year-old Seymour Avenue resident Omayra Noriega says yes.

“If we would have been an actual community, I think we could have found something out,” Noriega tells Regina Brett Show producer Danielle Wiggins.

Noriega walked past the home where the women were held just an hour before their rescue.  She says her neighbors don’t interact much with each other and everyone keeps to themselves.

The first time Noriega saw Ariel Castro was when his picture was on the news in connection with the case.

On The Show

On this edition of The Regina Brett Show, Regina explores the Seymour Avenue neighborhood with Noriega and Plain Dealer reporter Rachel Dissell.   Dissell covered the Berry, Knight and DeJesus rescue along with the case of convicted Imperial Avenue rapist and murderer Anthony Sowell.  Dissell lives near Seymour Avenue.

Ward 14 Councilman Brian Cummins  joins the show to share how the neighborhood where the women were found has evolved due to the recession and the transient nature of residents.

Regina also explores ways to promote resident connectivity in communities with Neighborhood Connections program director Tom O’Brien and Akron mayor Don Plusquellic.

Mayor Plusquellic believes if residents develop a sense of community; friendlier, safer neighborhoods will follow.

“We’re all so busy.  We’re taking care of our own property, we’re worried about how we’re going to pay the bills and everything else,” Plusquellic says on the show.  “What gets lost is who’s out there right in my own neighborhood that if I get to know them; they can be the watch dog for me and my family and I can do the same for them.”

Plusquellic was inspired to create Neighbors Day Akron after observing similar events abroad.    As part of Neighbors Day, residents are encouraged to host events to assist in getting to know others living in their community.  This year’s Neighbors Day Akron is Saturday, May 25th.

Listen to Full Show Audio Here: