|Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson|
|U.S. District Attorney Steve Dettelbach|
|Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty|
|Ohio ACLU Legal Director James Hardiman|
|Cleveland NAACP Executive Director Sheila Wright|
|Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church Senior Pastor The Rev. Larry Harris|
|Black on Black Crime Inc. Founder and Community Activist Art McKoy|
|Members of the grassroots group The Oppressed People's Nation. The group is led by Community Activist Ernest Smith|
CLEVELAND, Ohio-Some 150 people rallied in front of Cleveland City Hall before the city council meeting Monday night over the November car chase that led to the gunning down of unarmed Blacks Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell by a group of White Cleveland police officers, and in response to other unjustified deadly Cleveland police shootings such as Daniel Ficker and Kenneth Smith, as well as the unsolved rape and murders in March of Jazmine Trotter and Christine Malone.
Some of the protesters then attended the 7 pm Cleveland City Council meeting. Other activists drove across town after the downtown rally to the city's east side to Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church where Senior Pastor The Rev. Larry Harris, Cleveland NAACP officials and Ohio ACLU Legal Director James Hardiman met with about 80 people, some community activists, and U.S. District Attorney Steve Dettelbach. (Editor's note: 19 Action News Reporter Tiffani Tucker (pictured below) covered the energized Cleveland City Hall rally).
CLICK THIS LINK HERE TO GO TO 19 ACTION NEWS.COM TO READ TUCKER'S ARTICLE AND TO WATCH THE ASSOCIATED NEWS VIDEO
|19 Action News Reporter|
and Anchor Tiffani Tucker
Also on hand at the church forum attended by Cleveland Urban News.Com as the only media allowed inside were members of the FBI and a couple of FEDS brought in my the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate systemic problems and malfeasance in the Cleveland Police Department.
"Was it self defense or murder?" asked Community Activist and Black on Black Crime Founder Art McKoy at the City Hall rally he led earlier in the day relative to the Williams- Russell 137 bullets shooting that has rocked Cleveland and has caused racial unrest. And Bettie Simpson of Imperial Women asked at the rally if "the violence, rape and murders of Black women in Cleveland will ever stop?"
After rallying for about an hour dozens of activists went inside for the city council meeting chanting "No Justice No Peace" to a drumbeat.
Activist Ray Clark of the grassroots group The Oppressed People's Nation confronted Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson in the hallway and asked when he would fire the 13 police officers that gunned down Williams and Russell.
Jackson, who is running for a third four year term this year, told Clark to "talk to county prosecutor Tim McGinty."
Community Activist Don Bryant, who leads The People's Forum and The Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network, held a protest sign at the rally that read "McGinty recuse thyself," a slogan demanding a special prosecutor to push for a criminal indictment against police.
A former common pleas judge, the controversial McGinty, who enjoys support from Cleveland NAACP officials, several Black elected officials, and the Call and Post Newspaper no matter what he does to Blacks and others, was elected county prosecutor last year with campaign money and an endorsement from the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, and he has not pushed for a Cuyahoga County Grand Jury indictment of police involved in the unprecedented shooting.
Al Porter, vice president of Black on Black Crime Inc, said that the police officers at issue, none of whom are Black, should have been disciplined by now, and prosecuted rather than still on the job. He told Jackson Monday night at City Hall that "if you don't fire them we will fire you in November," referencing the upcoming mayoral election, though to date the still popular Jackson, 67, has no serious opponent.
The mayor cautioned Porter saying firing police is not as easy as it might appear when criminal charges are possibly being considered and that "it all must be done in correct order," a comment activists dismissed as the mayor's alleged fear to stand up to the police officers that kill unarmed Blacks and others through alleged excessive force and because of a break down in the system.
Cleveland NAACP President The Rev. Hilton Smith did not attend the church gathering held later that evening with federal authorities at Mount Olive, though Executive Director Sheila Wright did and said that the NAACP "has a box of complaints" that she can bring to the FEDS for review.
One federal agent at the forum said to a community activist there that "it is obvious that the mayor is not in control."
Pastor Harris said that the sponsors of the forum could not decide whether to let the media in or not and that because they wanted people to be able to voice concerns freely, the media were shut out but would be invited to the next meeting.
Community Activist Amy Hurd, a member of the grassroots group The Carl Stokes Brigade who attended both the rally and church forum, said that police must be held accountable for the deadly shooting.
"As we all have to follow the rules, so does the police department," said Hurd.
Community Activist Brett Jackson, a member of Black on Black Crime and The Cleveland Chapter of the New Black Panther Party, asked District Attorney Dettelbach if Cleveland police will get away with killing Russell, 43, and Williams, 30.
Dettelbach said that his role at the meeting was to simply "hear concerns."
Monday evening is not the first time the FEDS have met with the community for data on its investigation since hitting town after the shooting. Another Dettelbach community forum on the Cleveland Police Department is set for sometime in May, also at Mount Olive. Call the offices of the Cleveland NAACP at 216-231-6260 or Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church at 216-991-2830 for more information.