Sunday, April 1, 2012

Over 200 Cleveland area activists, Imperial Women, NAACP officials, rally on Public Square for Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin

By Kathy Wray Coleman, Editor, Cleveland Urban News. Com and The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com( and (

CLEVELAND, Ohio-Over 200 people, including prominent area Civil Rights attorneys, elected officials, Cleveland NAACP officials and leaders of grassroots groups such as the Imperial Women, Black on Black Crime, Occupy Cleveland, Revolution Books, the Oppressed People's Nation, the Carl Stokes Brigade, Peace in the Hood, Occupy the Hood Cleveland, the Committee to Bring Home Jamela and Jamyla, the Cleveland Chapter of the New Black Panther Party, the Cleveland African American Museum, Organize Ohio, the Northeast Ohio Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, People for the Imperial Act, the Joaquin Hicks Real People's Movement, and the Underground Railroad participated in a rally on Fri., March 30 at Public Square in Cleveland to demand the repeal of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law and in support of slain unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

"Gunning somebody down is not standing your ground," said famed Cleveland Civil Rights Attorney Avery Friedman, who produces and stars in a cable television show on constitutional issues and other legal matters at noon weekly on CNN.

"I am over six feet tall and weigh 250 pounds and if somebody feels threatened by me in a shopping mall and shoots me is that Stand Your Ground?" asked state Rep. Bill Patmon (D-10), a Cleveland Democrat. "Elected officials have got to stand up in Cleveland and elsewhere on what is happening to Black people in Cleveland and around this country."

Florida's Stand Your Ground law, which is duplicated in other states but not in Ohio, a state that does have a recently passed law that allows concealed weapons carry in bars and sports stadiums, is being tested as unconstitutional, though some people confuse it with self defense, which has a higher standard of justification.

Bill Swain of Revolution Books had harsher words than both Friedman and Patmon on the circumstances surrounding Martin's murder.

"It is nothing but a modern day lynching," said Swain, a White community activist.

Cleveland Ward 6 Councilwoman Mamie Mitchell said that Martin's case touches something in practically everyone.

"He could have been my son," said Mitchell.

Kathy Wray Coleman, one of the
organizers of the protest, said that the Trayvon Martin case is symptomatic of a national problem as to the unconstitutional mistreatment of Black men and boys by the legal system.

"The Cleveland NAACP commissioned a study sanctioned by the Cuyahoga County prosecutor that found that collectively the 34 judges in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas give Blacks, including Black men, harsher sentences than similarly situated Whites," said Coleman. "We want U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to initiate a comprehensive investigation on the mistreatment of Black men, women, boys and girls across America from Cleveland, to Cincinnati, to Detroit, New York and Florida."

Led by Peace in the Hood founder Khalid Samad with the help of NAACP Vice President Dr. Eugene Jordan, Black on Black Crime Founder Art McKoy and Coleman, who leads the Imperial Women, a group founded around the rape and murders of 11 Black women by serial killer Anthony Sowell, the rally was high spirited.

After a host of speeches, the community activists marched around Public Square demanding justice for Martin, the Black Florida teen slain last month by White neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, who has not been charged, a posture that has sparked nationwide protests.

And Whites at the rally were just as upset as the Blacks.

"This is discrimination against Black people,"said Ston Jones, a member of Occupy Cleveland.

The activists want Zimmerman arrested and charged with aggravated murder and manslaughter and said that they will reconvene to demand that something is done about the disparities against Blacks by the 34 judges of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas and surrounding municipal courts like Berea, Bedford, Cleveland, Lyndhurst, Lakewood and Shaker Hts.

Data show that in both Berea and Bedford indigent Blacks in criminal cases are being maliciously prosecuted and denied attorneys, and are being harassed by the judges there for refusing to plead guilty to bogus criminal charges pushed by racist White policemen in those cities.

Coleman said that the biggest problem in Cuyahoga County is Cleveland NAACP President George Forbes, whom she says protects money coming into his law firm rather than the Black community on pertinent issues of public concern. She said that her group and other area activist groups want an investigation on issues impacting the Black community brought to the attention of Cleveland NAACP officials including illegal foreclosures, malicious prosecutions, the theft of Black babies by Cuyahoga County officials to hand to affluent White couples, and how serial killer Anthony Sowell was released from police custody in 2008 on a rape complaint to murder the last six of the 11 Black women whose remains were found at his Imperial Ave. home on Cleveland's predominantly Black east side in 2009.

Activists have said that they will picket Forbes and the Cleveland NAACP offices if he and Interim Cleveland NAACP Executive Director Arlene Anderson continue to refuse to meet with poor Blacks and others that have complained to the NAACP of alleged racial discrimination in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.

Reach Journalist Kathy Wray Coleman at and phone number: 216-932-3114.