A violent gang that terrorized a Cleveland neighborhood has lost its stronghold, and residents feel optimistic for the first time in years, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “The streets are cleaner, and there’s a lot less traffic and people dealing on the corners,” said Louise Adams, who has lived in the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood for more than a decade. Federal and local authorities 44 men on drug trafficking and other charges in January, breaking up a drug network they said distributed crack cocaine.
The highly publicized sweep was the first stage of a federally funded, $2.5 million initiative that local law enforcement authorities, social agencies, and residents see as the most promising sign ever to help clear these neighborhoods of gang violence and drugs. Adams sees the crackdown as a sign of hope, but the many boarded and abandoned homes and gunshots shattering the night remind her that change does not come easily. “It’s going to take five or 10 years to clean everything up,” said Adams, who lives in a small wooden home. “There are too many rental properties and absentee landlords,” Adams said. Cleveland was one of six cities nationwide to receive the federal money as part of the Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative – a three-pronged approach that includes enforcement, prevention and a prisoner re-entry program through 2009.