Comment by safety director unacceptable

DEAR EDITOR:

This is in response to the August 14 article concerning the juveniles fighting at the Warren Italian-American Heritage Festival.

I am deeply concerned with the comments of Warren’s Director of Safety and Service, Enzo Cantalamessa, “Kids will be kids. Kids fight.”

Excuse me! This attitude is completely unacceptable, especially coming from a city leader.

The contributions of Warren’s Italian immigrants and families are immeasurable, so the public perception and actions following this festival is gravely disappointing. Every year, the mayhem following the celebrations gets worse and worse. Though Mr. Cantalamessa believes the Sunday Night Chaos is not affiliated with the festival, it is not changing the fact that trouble brews after this event every single year.

Last year after the celebrations, the roof of my car had to be replaced after two teenagers repeatedly threw their bodies on top of it, causing the ceiling of the vehicle to cave in. This was $3,719 in damages. I never had the chance to address these teenagers who were caught on camera. Through browsing social media, I learned that the Sunday evening following the event has grown into an informal event of its own among teenagers.

While l was living downtown in 2017, the only time I ever had any trouble was after the Italian-American Heritage Festival. To say that the disruptions are not in any way associated with the festival is simply not true. Just because you personally are disconnected from the damage doesn’t change when and where it happens.

These youth know their behavior causes distress for downtown residents, but there are no consequences for them. Or perhaps their morale is so low that the consequences don’t even matter. When local leaders have absolutely no standards for Warren’s youth, what do we expect to happen?

Last year, Ron Book wrote a letter to the Tribune saying that it is only a matter of time before someone gets hurt. Well, this year, it happened. Safety is the key word, here. A young man ended up in the hospital.

We can’t give up and say ‘kids will be kids.’ I now live in Athens County, which is the poorest county in Ohio, but I see many similarities in what children are facing. In parts of Warren, children are dealing with heavy issues such as poverty, food insecurity, violence and addiction, in addition to social pressures at school. They deserve better encouragement and higher standards than a shrug of the shoulders — and the city I grew up in deserves better as well.

CLAIRE GYSEGEM

Athens County

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