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The Bell of Free Speech Silenced: Historic City Club of Cleveland Gong Missing


CLEVELAND: The City Club of Cleveland gong and gavel, which have signaled the opening and closing of City Club Forums and programs for more than 70 years, was missing, from Oct. 14 to Oct. 19, 2006.


City Club employees believe that the gong and gavel, which are valued at $4,000, were taken sometime between 6:00 p.m. on Friday, October 13, 2006, and 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 14, 2006. City Club officials reviewed building security tapes in hopes that they would be able to determine what happened.1

The gong was donated to The City Club by Dr. Louis Siegelstein, a City Club member. His family obtained the gong from what was then Shanghai, China in the 1930s. Since then, the gong has signaled the beginning and the closing of all City Club Forums and programs.


It is heard every Friday on the live radio broadcasts of City Club Forums on WCLV-FM and on The City Club’s radio network, which includes more than 200 stations across the country. In addition, viewers see it every week on the WVIZ television broadcast of Friday Forums.


The City Club did not seek prosecution if the person returned the gong.

“The City Club gong is an immensely important artifact for The City Club and the city of
Cleveland. It has become a symbol of free speech, ringing in historically significant speakers for many years, including several U.S. presidents and Cleveland mayors, Babe Ruth, and Rosa Parks,” says City Club executive director James Foster.


“We hope that the person who took the gong will realize its value to our region and the nation. We welcome its return with no questions asked.”


The gong and gavel have since been returned via an out-of-state mailing by persons unknown.


Editor’s Note: In the photo is Sanjiv Kapur, former president of the board of directors of the City Club. Photo by Don Nottage.






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