It’s a sunny afternoon, and the only people on the new playground at Kerruish Park near Cleveland's Lee-Miles neighborhood are city workers, scrubbing away graffiti. Scrawled in the fuzzy script of black spray paint, obscenities and gang symbols tag everything – the slide, the benches, the ground. Workers scour the jungle gym, buffing away a symptom of a disease infecting Cleveland neighborhoods and the quality of life in the city.
Against a backdrop of violence, drug dealers, prostitutes and gangs, residents from east to west are united in desperation. And some are fighting back. In three daily installments this week, the Plain Dealer tells stories of life in Cleveland. Some are stories of people who cope with daily assaults on their senses. But others are stories of people who have decided, either alone or with their neighbors, to make a stand for their quality of life and restore order to their neighborhoods.