Westlake under siege

I don’t think anyone would disagree when I say that Westlake Ohio, and gang violence are hardly synonymous terms. This idyllic city has as safe a feel to it as any I’ve been too. And for most of its 199 year history this has been perfectly true. But if you were around town in the 1950s, you’d know that Westlake was not devoid of what historian William M. Robishaw called “teen-age problems”. In 1953, there were 20 “unofficial” cases of juvenile delinquency. Also around that time, Westlake police busted up a ring of car strippers which included both Westlake and Avon Lake teens. In particular the Dover Inn experienced the full brunt of teen angst on the night of November 21, 1948 when a gang of around 100 “cronies” besieged the Dover Inn on Center Ridge Road for 4 hours terrorizing Westlake authorities and residents alike.
The story starts the week before, when the owner of the Inn, Mrs. Margaret Montesino ejected 10 to 12 “trouble makers” from the place for what was described at the time as “rowdyism”. As they left, they promised to be back. And that they were on the next Saturday when a larger group showed up in their “hot rod” cars and demanded entrance. The doors were locked though to the gang’s dismay. When one of the people inside, a Westlake youth tried to leave the bar, one of the gang members knocked him to the ground with his car. This got the ire of all inside, and the rest of the Westlake youths rushed out and ran the gang off. Again, the promise of return was made.
So this brings us to the night of November 21, a Monday. At about 10:30 pm, a group of about 50 to 60 “souped up hot rods” started arriving at the Dover Inn carrying what police estimated at over 100 gang members recruited from Rocky River and Cleveland’s west side. The people inside the Inn including Mrs. Montesino and two Westlake youths locked and barred the doors and called the police. The gang had shown up armed with “clubs, bricks and lengths of hose” according to the story, and continually defied police efforts to disperse them. Even the threat of tear gas failed to scare the “toughs” into going home. Westlake Police Chief George Jackson was forced to call in reinforcements from the police and fire departments of not only Westlake, but Bay and Rocky River to regain control of the situation. For 4 hours chaos ensued, but by 2:30 pm the police had about 50 gang members in custody, 15 of which were held in Westlake on disorderly conduct charges. The rest of the gang raced off into the night. The members of the gang that were kept in Westlake ranged in age from about 17 to 25 years old. The article supposed that they were to be taken in front of the Mayor to answer for their crimes.

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