Cleveland, OH is Now at Peace

May 6, 2013 ended a decade of horror for three women.  Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight were held captive in a house on Seymour Avenue in Cleveland, OH got their freedom when they escaped from Ariel Castro’s house.  That day they got their life, their freedom, their families, and their independence back.  Now it is time for these courageous women who fought to stay alive for more than a decade to find their way back into the community and get back to what we would call a normal life.  A life where you can wake up and do whatever you want.  A life where no one tells you what to do, when you can do it, or if you can do it.  A life filled with freedom.

Almost three months after the women escaped from captivity, Ariel Castro, their kidnapper & rapist, was sentenced on August 1, 2013 to life in prison without parole + 1,000 years after pleading guilty to 937 charges including murder, rape & kidnapping.  A sentence fitting for this monster.  During his sentencing hearing, he said that he was not a monster and he basically blamed all that he did on others in his life.  He took no responsibility for anything that he did.  He said that he was abused when he was younger and that is why he became addicted to porn and made him the way he was.  He did say that he was sorry and apologized to the women, the court, the judge, and to the city of Cleveland for what he did, but it was not a heartfelt apology at all.  He was only thinking of himself.  He pleaded guilty to raping these women, who were young girls when he kidnapped them, but then said that his house had “harmony”.  He said that what went on between him and these woman was consensual, but the judge then interrupted him and said, “if you say that what went on between you and these women was consensual, then why did you plead guilty to raping them?”  No answer from Castro.

Today, marked a day of freedom (again), independence, peace, and love in the city of Cleveland, as Ariel Castro’s house was torn down as part of his plea agreement.  There will no longer be a reminder of what horrible acts of terror that went on in that house, as it is gone.  By the time evening arrives tonight, grass will have been planted on that lot with flowers and three angel statues, one for each woman, and another smaller one for Amanda Berry’s daughter, Joslyn, who was born six years ago in captivity on December 25th.  By tonight, you will have never known his house ever existed, and the people of Cleveland, and these three brave women can start to heal.

Here is the news report clip from earlier today with the demolition:

Castro has started his new life in jail where he will now be told what to do and when to do it.  His torment and captivity has only just begun.  This chapter of horror is now closed.  Healing can now begin.


President Late to Parma, Stopped for a Beer

Word gets around, guys talk, ya hear things.  And yesterday we got the scoop that President Barack Obama was heading to Parma, Ohio which is right around the corner from us.  The President was planned to arrive in Parma, OH at 7:15p to speak at a campaign rally at James Day Park, but actually arrived a few minutes before 8:00p.  He arrived a little tardy in Parma due to stopping off at Ziggy’s Bar & Grill in Amherst, Oh for a few cold ones (a twitter report said that he had a Miller Lite on tap, then switched to a Bud Light in a bottle) and talked with the patrons at the bar, then headed off to Parma.  During his 45 minute speech, the President talked about hiring more teachers, the health care plan, and the economy.  (this stop in Parma was marked as the seventh stop in Ohio)

We took a drive around the corner from us about 7:45p so we could get a front row spot to see the President’s motorcade drive by after he finished his rally at James Day Park.  We stood on the sidewalk across from our neighborhood McDonald’s and Mr. Chicken as we watched the sun starting to set above the golden arches.  His motorcade was supposed to pass us around 8:30p, but it was not until after 9:30p did we get the opportunity to see the entire Presidential motorcade. 

While we sat there on the curb with all of the other residents who came for this photo-op, we all watched intensely as the police setup barricades and cleared Pleasant Valley Road which is normally heavily populated with cars.  As the minutes passed, we all kept watching in the direction of where the Presidential motorcade would be arriving from, and at one point, there was a strange feeling that we got – it was at that point when we realized that all the cars were finally off this heavily traveled road and silence set in.  The only sounds that we could hear was the police helicopter that was circling above the area.

Then, all of a sudden, from on top of the hill we could see the police lights coming down the road towards us.  You could hear everyone saying “get your camera out” or “get ready, here he comes”, as everyone leaned over the curb to see around the person in front of them.  Police on motorcycles drove up the road in front of the Presidential motorcade telling everyone to stay on the curb, and before we knew it, the Presidential motorcade was upon us.  The motorcade drove by everyone quickly with police escorts as well as the State Troopers and everyone got to see the Presidential bus that Barack Obama was on all decked out in maroon with the Presidential Seal on the front and side.  This whole photo-op actually lasted only a few minutes, but we can say that we were there when the President drove by our neighboring city of Parma, OH.

The Presidential Photo-op:

Friends we met while waiting for The President

Even doggies came out for the event

Daddy getting his video ready on his cell phone

The heavily traveled street, now empty

The Presidential Bus