By
ED Show
updated 5/16/2013 6:20:18 PM ET 2013-05-16T22:20:18

Across the country, missing people of lower socioeconomic status are less likely to get the resources and attention typically given to victims from better-off communities.

The nation celebrated the happy ending to a decade-long search for three missing women when Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were found May 6 in a west side neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio.

As the healing begins for those three women, many Americans have been asking how could they have been held hostage for 10 years just three miles from where they were abducted.

This all happened in a working class, predominantly Hispanic community. One out of every five houses is vacant. Students in the area generally attend Lincoln-West High School, which has a graduation rate of just 46%, which falls below the Cleveland school district`s average of 56%.

Neighbors claim to have called police to report suspicious activity at the home of the women`s accused kidnapper, Ariel Castro; the Cleveland police department denies receiving such calls.

The community is asking questions about the intensity of the search for these women. Exchanges got heated at a town hall in Cleveland on May 9.

“I have a sister that’s missing. And it seems like [Cleveland's] Second District [police zone] doesn’t care,”  said one woman. “I`m not getting any help for our sister that’s been missing. None.”

But police are frustrated as well.

“There’s 2,900 missing persons a year,” said Police Commander Keith Sulzer. “I don’t have that many officers that I can follow-up one person, and I would love to. If I had them, I would gladly do it. But I don’t.”

What this story brought to light is an issue that goes far beyond Seymour Avenue in Cleveland. Across the country, missing people of lower socioeconomic status are less likely to get the resources and attention typically given to victims from better-off communities.

“We used to have many police centers here in the city of Cleveland when I was on the Cleveland city council, but those dollars were cut on the federal level,” Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) told The Ed Show. “We’ve got to bring back the relationship between neighborhoods and police and make sure that we know that there are no throwaway neighborhoods.”

In 2012, it was reported that more than half the cities with the highest violent crime rates cut law enforcement budgets. Cities like Oakland, California, and Camden, New Jersey, where boots on the ground are seriously needed.

“While it may be a good bumper sticker to say, ‘let’s cut taxes,’ that has real life effects,” Virginia Delegate Charniele Herring (D-46th) told The Ed Show. “And it affects families.”

Republicans love to boast about cuts to the public workforce, but police, firefighters and teachers bear the brunt of budget cuts. These are public sector jobs, necessary to prevent crimes and respond to crimes. And they’ve been slashed in neighborhoods that need them the most.

Turner predicts the issue will be a “big deal” in the 2014 midterm elections.

“We have to decide in the city of Cleveland and in the state of Ohio, do we want to live in a city or a cemetery?” she said. “Do we want to live in a state that is vibrant for all folks or one that only takes care of the ultra-wealthy?

Video: Cleveland kidnappings: the bigger picture

  1. Closed captioning of: Cleveland kidnappings: the bigger picture

    >>> show." on may 6th , the nation celebrated the rare happy ending in decade-long search for three missing women when amanda berry, gina dejesus, and also michelle knight were found in a neighborhood in cleveland , ohio 's west side . as the healing begins for those three women, many americans have been asking, how in the world could this happen? how could these women have been held hostage for ten years, just three miles from where they were abducted? the community asked questions about the intensity of the search for these women. this is a working class community. the neighborhood where the girls were found is predominantly hispanic. one out of every five houses is vacant. students in the area generally attend lincoln west high school , which has a graduation rate of just 46%, which falls below the cleveland school district 's average of 56%. neighbors claim to have called police to report suspicious activity at the home of the women's accused kidnapper, ariel castro. the cleveland police department denies receiving such calls. exchanges in a town hall in cleveland on thursday got heated.

    >> i have a sister that's missing. and it seems like second district doesn't care. she does drugs, she was doing drugs, when she was -- when she did disappear, she had started going to church and kicking the drugs off. but still, i'm not getting any help for our sister that's been missing, none.

    >> but police are frustrated as well.

    >> there's 2,900 missing persons a year. i don't have that many officers that i can follow up one person, and i would love to. if i had them, i would gladly do it. but i don't. right now i have 21 missing persons still active in my district, okay? so that one has to handle 21 cases. so they're overburdened a little bit.

    >> well, that police officer said it pretty well, don't you think? what this story brings to light is an issue that goes far beyond seymore avenue in cleveland , ohio . you see, across the country, missing people of lower socioeconomic status are less likely to get the resources and attention typically given to victims from better-off communities. in 2012 , it was reported that more than half the cities with the highest violent crime rates cut law enforcement budgets. cities like oakland, california, camden, new jersey, where boots on the ground are seriously needed. republicans love to boast about cuts to the public workforce, police , firefighters with and teachers bear the brunt of budget cuts. these are public sector jobs, necessary to prevent crimes and respond to crimes. and they've been slashed in neighborhoods that need them the most. joining me tonight, our real talk panel, ohio state senator nina turner is with us, sharnell hearing, minority whip of the virginia house of delegates and chair of the democratic party of virginia , and wisconsin state senator, lena turner. great to have all of you with us tonight. thanks for coming back on "the ed show." nina , let me ask you first. is there a response bias , i guess you would call it? do people of color and lower income areas, do they get the same law enforcement resources that other areas are in town get? your thoughts on that?

    >> well, it's clear, ed, by your intro, that certainly they do not. and it is really sad, it is abysmal. and my heart and thoughts and prayers go out to the families of gina, michelle, and amanda. but it is quite unfortunate and we shouldn't tolerate it. i mean, right here in the state of ohio , the last biannual budget that we had, the government slashed local government funds by more than half. we're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars that would go to keep police officers employed. in cleveland , in 2011 , for example, they swore in 40 cadets and had to lay them off right after swearing them in, because the mayor of the city of cleveland had to adjust his budget by $35 million because of budget cuts. on the federal level , we need to invest more money in community policing , ed, in order to have vibrant communities, we need more training, we need more accountability, and we need more police on the streets. we used to have many police centers here in the city of cleveland , when i was on the cleveland city council , but those dollars were cut on the federal level . we've got to bring back the relationship between neighborhoods and police and make sure that we know that there are no throwaway neighborhoods. just because folks are poor does not mean that they do not deserve the same high-quality service as anybody else. and we need to have firm conversations about this and put money towards those efforts.

    >> lina taylor, how do we fix it? what should the approach be for communities?

    >> i think there's no question that senator turner hit the nail on the head. when you look at justice reinvestment initiatives, where what we do is create that reconnection with policing and communities where you target where your needs are, you try to make sure that you're looking at what are the triggers. so, for example, in our state, we lead in the nation in incarceration, and we know our triggers are mental health , so you have to fund the services that you need to --

    >> you have to fund the services.

    >> and you go through all of these cuts and the attack on public employees, you know, you're not going to have the resources to do what you've got to do. sharnell hearing, how big a fight is this? why is it that the democrats always seem to be willing to resource and it's always the republicans, and i don't mean to broad brush here, but we've got examples in your state of virginia , in pennsylvania, in ohio , in indiana, in michigan and wisconsin. it seems like these states have republicans that just can't wait towait to get to services like this.

    >> that's true, ed. what they like to do is talk about big tax cuts . we have somebody running for attorney general here in virginia, ken cuccinelli . he just rolled out this huge tax cut . but localities are saying, wait a minute, if you're going to do this huge tax cut , it's going to cause us to raise our property taxes to keep the level of services. i'm lucky i'm from alexandria, virginia, we have an excellent police department , but it is what nita talked about. it is a matter of resources and priorities. and if you do not have those resources and priorities set to protect our children in this nation and in our states, unfortunately, we're going to see tragedies like this. and it can be helped, it can be stopped, but we've got to make sure that our party is set in the right direction, so while it may be a good bumper sticker to say, let's cut taxes, that has real life effects. and it fantastaffects families.

    >> charniele, do you think there's a bias in response, neighborhood by neighborhood, depending on resource?

    >> i think -- it appears that way and i do think it's totally economic. i did read a report in new york, where there was a response quirk to a missing woman who was, you know, from a more affluent area than a woman who was poorer. but, you know, i hesitate to blame the police , because there is -- this is my concern. they all want tad a good job. i just spoke with my chief of police recently. they want to do a good job. and they're just strapped for resources .

    >> nina , how big an issue is this going to be in the next election in ohio ? i mean, this is -- all neighborhoods deserve fair and equal resources . i mean, it would seem to me that people would understand that.

    >> yeah, it's going to be a very big issue. just recently here, we had two ohio house members introduced right to work. you know, 2011 , you were on the ground here in ohio , pushing back against a tax against public sector workers and private sector workers and trying to take away their collective bargaining rights. you would have thought the gop learned their lesson, but no, they did not. and they were trying to push that same kind of legislation here in the state of ohio . it makes no sense. and we are debating a budget right now that still does not fund local government funds to the level that we need, to have a rigorous police department , to have police on the ground who have relationships, saving communities are about relationships, ed. this is going to be a big deal in 2014 and we have to decide in the city of cleveland and in the state of ohio , do we want to live in a city or a cemetery? do we want to live in a state that is vibrant for all folks or one that only takes care of the ultra-wealthy? the voters of the state of ohio will have an opportunity to weigh in in 2014 , and i believe that they're going to change families and future of all socioeconomic backgrounds, who deserve to live the american dream .

    >> as we've reported, there's been another mass shooting in america tonight. 12 people have been reportedly injured in a shooting at a mother's day parade in norris. i've got to ask you, lena taylor , and both you, lena, and nina , you're in the middle of the country, ohio and wisconsin. do your constituents want the federal government to do more on firearms? lena?

    >> you know, there's no question that all over the nation, that they want that. that what we want is to see that there is some effort to try to address the issues that are affecting communities. and it has to be balanced. there's no question about that. but i don't think the background checks was going too far . and the fact that congress was not able to move in that fashion, even though people all over have stated that that's something that they believe is important, and it frankly, was an easy bipartisan step that should have been made. so there's no question that in my community, that that's something people are concerned about.

    >> state senators nina turner and lena taylor and also delegate sharnell hearing, great to have you with us here on "the ed show." tonight in our survey, i asked you, are republicans using benghazi to hurt hillary clinton 's chances in 2016 ? 99% of you say yes, 1% of you say no. coming up, mark sanford hikes his way into our pretender segment. find out why the congressman-elect should not have done an interview on this particular sunday. stay tuned. people

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