All-night gas stations are magnets for crime, but leaders say targeting them makes them a scapegoat
Gun violence in Cleveland more complex than proliferation of late-night hangouts
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - While shootings and other violent crimes seem to be increasing at all-night gas stations, community leaders like Gregory “Tonto” Terrell, of Stop the Pain, says the answer is not simple.
“I don’t think that’s the answer, to close anything down.”
Michelle Bell, of M-PAC, who lost her son to gun violence, agreed.
“I don’t think they should be closed,” Bell said. “They provide a great service. We all work various shifts, and I shouldn’t have to worry, ‘OK, I got to go get gas at 6 o’clock because they’re going to be closed when I go to work at 8.’”
Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin said there’s no legislation pending to restrict gas station hours while other councilmen, like Mike Polensek, says all-night gas stations became a popular hangout during COVID while other gathering places closed.
“The issues are people are carrying guns and they feel superior with them, and they feel strong, and any little argument gets crazy,” said Moe Widdi, who manages Gas USA on St. Clair and East 123rd, the scene of several violent incidents.
He says closing down would cost jobs.
All agree more police patrolling would help.
“We can figure out where the all-night gas stations are. Now, we have an idea because of the crime that is happening, but it should be the increased visibility of our police,” said Bell.
Widdi said he’s hired security in the past to help and it didn’t eliminate the problem. And places like his are getting a bad name.
“The overnight gas station is not a place of fighting and or congregating people around here with problems. We’re here to have a service for you guys,” said Widdi. “But closing down businesses is not the key here.”
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