Blog: Cleveland's 'kindergarten graduation brawl' disgrace

10:33 PM, Jun 2, 2013   |    comments
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Just when the image of Greater Cleveland is rising higher, something like a school's kindergarten "brawl" makes national news and we take a small step backwards.

But first let me say this.

Right now we have two major films being shot here -- Marvel's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Draft Day" -- and people like Kevin Costner, Samuel L. Jackson and Denis Leary are here.

We have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a beautiful lake, major league sports teams like the Cleveland Indians (in beautiful Progressive Field) and the Cleveland Browns.

We have major resurgence in downtown Cleveland, world-class chefs and restaurants, the Cleveland Horseshoe Casino (although I don't gamble) and an almost unimaginable resurgence on the East Bank of The Flats with an Aloft Hotel and major office tower as a centerpiece of a 24-acre waterfront development.

Oh, and a brand new, international-class Medical Mart and Convention Center set to open. Wait, it's now the Global Center for Health Innovation and Cleveland Convention Center.

And what is the national media writing about?

Eight people were arrested Friday for aggravated rioting after juice was spilled following a kindergarten graduation at Michael R. White Elementary School and there was a "melee here," according to Cleveland Police Cmdr. Wayne Drummond.

This made national news over the weekend, headlined in some news outlets as "Brawl breaks out after kindergarten graduation" and "Kindergarten brawl breaks out over spilled juice." Nice. Great.

The first calls from school security asked for assistance but a 911 call -- apparently from an onlooker -- wrongly alleged shots had been fired so about 10 cruisers and a slew of police showed up. No shots were fired but one person had a pipe and another had a hammer. The school was put on lockdown.

Two teenage girls apparently started hitting each other after accusations flew over who spilled the juice and then members of their families joined in. The fight, thankfully, "spilled" outside so at least no kindergarteners got hurt.

Cleveland City Councilman Jeff Johnson lives across East 92nd Street from the school. It's noteworthy that none of the 374 students at the K through 8 school was involved, according to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

Michael R. White is on East 92nd Street in a blue-collar neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland, right by the University Circle area, home to Cleveland's world-famous Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Orchestra.

It's near the internationally famous Cleveland Clinic -- where the Velvet Underground's Lou Reed had a life-saving liver transplant last month -- where kings and princes come for their medical problems.

I'm not trying to say that things like the fight don't usually happen in "nice neighborhoods" or in "nice places." That's not my point at all. People can "lose it" everywhere, as our crime statistics show.

But just when the spotlight is shining brightly on Greater Cleveland, some people lose control and make us look stupid and petty. Now we can't control so many things in life but we can control our emotions and our sense of dignity.

This "brawl" did not have to happen and no one person is responsible for Greater Cleveland's image. It's a collective job. Let's do it right from now on.


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