Ohio Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (D-11), a Warrensville Hts. Democrat and chair-elect of the Congressional Black Caucus who has called for an investigation by the United States Department of Justice and its subordinate entity the FBI to step in to investigate the deadly shootings that claimed the lives of two unarmed Black people by Cleveland police last month
By Kathy Wray Coleman, Publisher, Editor-n-Chief, Cleveland Urban News. Com and The Cleveland Urban News.Com Blog, Ohio's Most Read Online Black Newspaper(www.clevelandurbannews.com)
EAST CLEVELAND,Ohio- East Cleveland city officials, Mayor Gary Norton and police investigating the 137-bullets deadly shootings two weeks ago by a group of White Cleveland police officers in East Cleveland of unarmed Blacks Malissa Williams, 30, and Timothy Ray Russell, 43, will join Cleveland Chapter NAACP leaders for a community question-and-answer forum on Friday, Dec. 14 at 6 pm at the Shaw High School Main Auditorium in East Cleveland, Cleveland NAACP Interim Executive Director Arlene Anderson said yesterday in a press release to Cleveland Urban News.Com. (Reach the Cleveland Chapter NAACP by phone at 216-231-6260).
"The NAACP has a long and storied history of opposing police misconduct, especially in cases involving high speed chases and deadly force," said Anderson in the press release. "The greater Cleveland community and the NAACP deserve to have a thorough explanation of the policies of the involvement of the police departments pertaining to high speed pursuits and the use of deadly force."
East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton, who enlisted the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation in the case, said that he will be speaking at the forum and that it is designed to inform the community as much as possible around the unprecedented shootings, though the mayor of the impoverished predominantly Black suburb of Cleveland emphasized that it is Cleveland police and not his police force that are at the center of the investigation.
"I will speak at the forum," said Norton.
And at 5:30 pm., shortly before the forum, community activists, led by Art McKoy of Black on Black Crime, Cleveland Mayoral Candidate Donna Walker Brown, Genevieve Mitchell of The Imperial Women and The Carl Stokes Brigade, Oppressed People's Nation Leader Ernest Smith, and Khalid Samad of Peace in the Hood will hold a press conference and protest in front of the school to demand that neither Cleveland officials, the county sheriff's office, nor police or East Cleveland officials investigate the shootings. They want an official FBI investigation and intervention by the U.S. Department of Justice in taking total control over the investigation.
Other activist groups that will protest include the faith based organizations United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, Shurah Council and the Nation of Islam.
Activists said also that they will address the role of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty, who took campaign contributions and was endorsed by the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association earlier this year relative to his win to replace former Democratic county prosecutor Bill Mason. They want McGinty out of any investigation and the possible prosecution by his office of any felony indictment charges that might come against the 13 Cleveland police involved in the deadly shootings, none of whom are Black, and all of whom are on paid administrative leave.
"We request that FBI and not East Cleveland officials or police be the lead investigator because East Cleveland lacks resources for a thorough and comprehensive investigation and the city and its police department have a history of sweeping viable complaints and alleged police misconduct under the rug," said McKoy, a longtime East Cleveland community activist. "Though we respect the sovereignty of the City of East Cleveland when it comes to police investigating each other we take issue with that partly because we know that over 4,000 internal complaints against police in Cleveland have all resulted in outcomes favoring police, and East Cleveland is no different."
Activists said that they will call for a special prosecutor in place of McGinty at Friday's press conference.
"We want Tim McGinty to recuse himself and will have a press conference and protest before the rally and make our concerns known ," said Walker Brown, the first to take petitions out to run next year in Cleveland against popular mayor Frank Jackson, who said that he will seek a third four-year term.
The Ohio ACLU also wants McGinty and local authorities off the case too and sent a letter to the county prosecutor asking that he recuse himself from the matter.
Family members of the victims, who have called the police shootings racist and cold- blooded- murder, have said they will attend the forum.
Ohio Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge, a Warrensville Hts Democrat, whose 11th congressional district includes parts of Cleveland and East Cleveland in its entirety, also chair-elect of the Congressional Black Caucus, sent a letter yesterday to U.S. Justice Department officials requesting an independent and comprehensive investigation around the deadly shootings by its office of Civil Rights as well as an official FBI investigation. The families of the victims want such too and have said publicly that they do not want either East Cleveland or Cleveland officials or police investigating anything, more less themselves, or neighborhood police accused of unnecessary and deadly force against the Black Community.
Fudge has also said that the Cleveland Police Department exhibits a " pattern of unequal treatment that exposes African-Americans to practices and policies by the Cleveland Police Department in egregious violation of their civil rights including the use of excessive force."
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