Saturday, July 9, 2011

Black on Black Crime, Imperial Women, Other Activists Object To Forbes' Position To Support Racist Cleveland Hts Curfew Law Against Black Children

Cleveland NAACP President and Attorney George L. Forbes, also general counsel for Cleveland's Call and Post Newspaper. Forbes supports a curfew ordinance amendment (an amendment or change in a previously passed law) passed Tuesday by Cleveland Hts City Council that unconstitutionally precludes Black children from shopping centers in certain areas of the city.

Community Activist Art McKoy, who failed to win over community activists in requesting that they support the Cleveland Hts City Council ordinance amendment supported by Forbes. Community activists say the ordinance amendment is racist because it targets Black teens in violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution

Community Activist Sharon Danann, leader of the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network, visits a prisoner at the Lucasville Prison that she says has been illegally convicted of crimes following a riot there in 1993. Danann says that the Cleveland Hts city ordinance amendment that makes it illegal for teens under 18 to patronize businesses in particular areas of the city is racist because it targets Black children and does not impact similarly situated White kids.

Former three-term Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White, reportedly the city's most brilliant mayor, who stole the mayoral election from then City Council President George L. Forbes in 1989 in Cleveland's first Black-on Black mayoral runoff. Forbes went on to become Cleveland's longest serving local NAACP president, holding the realm since 1992, but the friction between the two Democrats never waned.

From the Metro Desk of the Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com (

Black on Black Crime Inc and other activist groups, including the Imperial Women, the Oppressed People's Nation, and the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network, have refused an invitation by Cleveland Branch NAACP President George L. Forbes to join him with his position to go against Black children in Cleveland Hts. in support of a a 6 p.m. curfew ordinance amendment adopted Tuesday evening by Cleveland Hts City Council that mandates the arrest of any child caught patronizing shopping centers in select areas of the city after 6 p.m.

A city ordinance is a law passed by members of a city council and an amendment to a city ordinance occurs when a city council either changes or adds to a previously passed law or city ordinance.

The unprecedented ordinance amendment, which appears to be one of its kind nationwide, limits teens and other children from the grounds after 6 pm in the Cedar-Lee Business District and the business district that stretches across Conventry Road and is between Mayfeld Road and Euclid Hts Bld. Black teens frequent the commercial areas more than any other business areas in the city and the ordinance amendment, that some community activists are calling racist, came at a request from some of the predominantly White business owners of the district.

Cleveland Hts. council members, with the support of Mayor Edward J. Kelley, law director John Gibbon and city manager Robert C. Downey approved the amendment to the curfew law, which now allows police to arrest anyone younger than 18 caught in the Coventry-Lee commercial areas between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The council structure for Cleveland Hts. consists of seven councilpersons , including Mayor Kelley, though Downey, as city manager, supervises police chief Jeffery E. Roberson and recommends the hiring and firing of city employees. Two council members are Black, and are Phyllis Evans and Cheryl L. Stephens.

Community Activist Art McKoy, 67, at a Black on Black Crime group meeting held Wed., urged activists to support the ordinance amendment, but most people that attended the Wed. meeting, including members of other grassroots groups, said no.

Sharon Danann, who leads the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network, asked McKoy why he would want to give police more power to arrest and harass Black teens and that White children are not treated that way.

"Why would you support something that gives police more power to arrest Black children when business areas that White children frequent have no such curfew?," said Danann, a longtime community activist with a master's degree from Harvard University, and a White woman who routinely fights against racial discrimination and the disenfranchisement of the less fortunate.

Kathy Wray Coleman, a local journalist and a leader of the Imperial Women, agreed and said the next move by the predominantly White City Council of Cleveland Hts would be to pass a city ordinance for Black children to ride in the back of the bus in certain areas of the city. She said that grassroots factions want no parts of either Cleveland NAACP President George L. Forbes or the Cleveland NAACP until organization leaders stand up for Black women like those murdered on Imperial Ave. in Cleveland, and other people that have been mistreated and subjected to race discrimination by police, the legal system countywide, and operatives at Cleveland City Hall and elsewhere.

Coleman reminded the activists at the meeting that Forbes was quoted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer Newspaper just last week as saying that his investigation supports Garfield Hts police officials determination and found no unnecessary force or other police brutality against an unarmed 50-year old mentality ill Black man (Sylvester Gavin) who was shot four times and killed by police at a local gas station after he allegedly charged them with a pole. Coleman also said that a 6 pm curfew is ludicrous and that Cleveland Hts police are known for harassing Blacks and illegally arresting them for money.

"My research reveals that Cleveland Hts police, that let alleged serial killer Anthony Sowell remain free from a necessary arrest on a rape complaint to allegedly kill the last 5 of the 11 Black women murdered on Imperial Ave. in Cleveland, need more sensitivity training and should stop arresting innocent Black people for money through court costs and fines and because of a disdain for the Black community," said Coleman.

Coleman said that Cleveland Hts Municipal Court Judge A. Deane Buchannan, who is Black, and Forbes' friend, should be investigated by authorities for potential nepotism issues and for allegedly denying Black men constitutionally required jury trials, among other questionable activities.

Cleveland Hts. is a middle class city of some 40,000 residents that borders various municipalities including the majority Black cities of E. Cleveland and Cleveland, and has pockets of rich people like prominent surgeons from area medical facilities such as the renowned Cleveland Clinic Foundation, a conglomerate of area hospitals with medical quarters throughout the country. The city population is 50 percent White and 42 percent Black, according to the 2010 U.S. Census Report.

In the end McKoy agreed that it might not be such a great idea to agree to push public policy against Black children when it might be unconstitutional.

"These kids are unruly but I just wanted to put the issue on the table," he said.

Coleman told McKoy that it is not his job to control what he sees as unruly Black kids by promoting a racist Cleveland Hts City Council ordinance amendment to appease Forbes, a former Cleveland City Council president that some say is still angry after losing a non-partisan runoff bid for Cleveland mayor more than two decades ago against former protege' Mike R. White.

A three-term Cleveland mayor, who served from 1990-2001, and whom Forbes advised when he was a young and politically ambitious councilman of Cleveland's Ward 8, White went on to become a state senator, and in 1989 upset Forbes in Cleveland's first Black-on Black mayoral runoff, one that put two Democrats against each other in a brawl that continued even after Forbes assumed the realm of the Cleveland NAACP in 1992. The second Black- on- Black mayoral runoff was in 2009 when former city councilman Bill Patmon, now a Democratic state representative, lost to Democratic Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, who is in this second year of a second four-year term.

"It is a violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution to target only Black children of Cleveland Hts. for an antiquated and obviously racist curfew law amendment, "said Coleman "And the Cleveland NAACP Executive Board should fire Mr. Forbes and get a leader that will not sellout the Black community at the drop of a hat."

In an editorial in its weekly newspaper this week the Call and Post Newspaper, a weekly that targets Cleveland's Black community, supported the Cleveland Hts curfew ordinance amendment, calling it a crackdown on unruly Black children.

Activists also rejected a request for a dual fundraiser with the Cleveland NAACP and Forbes, 79, the general counsel and editorial page editor for the Call and Post Newspaper, Cleveland's Black Press that has distributions also in Cincinnati and Columbus and is owned by a company owned by nationally known boxing promoter Don King.

"No, I cannot support that," said Donnie Pastard, a school teacher and member of Black on Black who said that the Cleveland NAACP is not worthy of support by the grassroots community because it no longer has the true interests of Black people at heart.

Most at Wednesday's Black on Black Crime meeting agreed with Pastard though Carl C. Newman suggested that Black on Black Crime and other grassroots factions unite with the local branch of the nation's oldest and most respected Civil Rights organization to collectively fight causes for the betterment of the Black community.

"I think a fundraiser with the Cleveland NAACP should happen," said Newman, also a member of Black on Black Crime.

Parents would be fined $50 if their children violate the ordinance amendment by patronizing businesses or otherwise visiting the off limits commercial areas after 6 pm in the absence of either a parent or guardian.

Also at its meeting this week Cleveland Hts City Council amended other aspects of the curfew ordinance already on the books that precludes a child, without a parent or guardian, out after dark if under the age of 12, requires children 12 to 15-years-old in at 10:30 pm, and mandates that teens 16 and 17 are in by midnight. That ordinance amendment adds exceptions like exclusion from the general curfew requirements for coming from school, a school related activity, movies, religious gatherings, or an emergency with written parental consent.

Journalist and Community Activist Kathy Wray Coleman can be reached at 216-932-3114 and