MANSFIELD: The Last Year Without a Memorial

It’s been almost a decade since the grisly deeds done by Anthony Sowell, who became known as the Cleveland Strangler, came to light after his arrest in October 2009. The bodies of eleven women were discovered by police investigators at his duplex at 12205 Imperial Avenue.

Six of the victims didn’t have to die, and if Cleveland Police Detective Georgia Hussein had simply done her job they would still be alive today. She had Sowell in custody and released him because she took the word of a monster over a victim that has escaped from the house. He then went on to kill six more women.

The fact that the City of Cleveland defended the actions of Det. Hussein is literally mindboggling. I understand the city law department has a duty to protect the public coffers, but in this case, their actions went far beyond the pale. Their defense of this malfeasance was an insult to the families of the victims.

Every year a group of citizens holds a memorial service on the Imperial Avenue site, and a ministerial group, as well as the City of Cleveland, has for years promised to erect a memorial to serve as a constant reminder that all lives are valuable and should be treated as such. But to date, nothing has been erected.

Former City Councilman Zack Reed recently called me and bemoaned the fact that the women who died by Sowell’s hands are all but forgotten, and together we came up with a suggestion that we feel has merit: The families of the six victims just settled a lawsuit that was filed against the City of Cleveland for a million dollars; what if they pooled just five percent (maybe even less) of their settlements to build the memorial themselves?

Fifty thousand dollars should be more than enough to construct a fitting monument to the women who lost their lives on Imperial Avenue, and I’m familiar with an experienced contractor that has agreed to do the construction at a reduced rate.

Don Laster was the man who rescued Sowell’s last potential victim by literally wrestling the naked woman from his clutches as he was attempting to pull her back into the house. Don is emotionally invested in the project, and perhaps the attorneys who won the settlement might be willing to contribute to something that tastefully marks the horrific spot.

This should be the last year that a memorial service is held at the site of the empty field that Sowell’s house of horrors once occupied. If the families take the first step, I’m sure that others in the community will join in and take the second; I know that I would be willing to donate.

From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.


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