Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cleveland police union president Steve Loomis, Councilman Reed to host community forum today, February 25 at 7 pm at New Sardis Primitive Baptist Church, 3474 East 147th Street, Black Shield and Hispanic police associations are also affiliated with event, Fraternal Order of Police president to attend too, Loomis regained union presidency last year after ousting Jeffery Follmer...By Cleveland Urban News.Com, Ohio's leader in Black digital news

Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association President Steve Loomis

Cleveland Ward 2 Councilman Zack Reed

Black Shield Police Association President Lynn Hampton

By Kathy Wray Coleman, editor-in-chief, Cleveland Urban News.Com, and the Kathy Wray Coleman Online News, Ohio's most read digital Black newspaper and newspaper blog. Tel: (216) 659-0473.  Coleman is a community activist and 21-year investigative journalist who trained for 17 years at the Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio. ( / (

CLEVELAND, OHIO- Cleveland Ward 2 Councilman Zack Reed and  Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association President Steve Lommis, whose collective bargaining union represents some 1450 non-supervisory patrol officers, detectives, and radio dispatchers of the Cleveland Police Department, have invited the community to a forum today, February 25, from 7 pm to 8:30 pm. at New Sardis Primitive Baptist Church, 3474 East 147th Street. 

Cleveland Police Fraternal Order of Police President Brian Betley, whose union represents police supervisors, is expected to attend too, Reed's office said earlier today.

Other police group affiliated with the event include the Black Shield Police Association, which is led by Lynn Hampton, and the Hispanic police association led by Cesar Herrera. Both association groups are nonprofit support organizations for minority Cleveland policemen. 

The forum is to hear from the community and to give police a chance to tell what they go through in patrolling urban cities like Cleveland, a largely Black major American City led by Mayor Frank Jackson. 

Loomis regained the helm of the powerful union last year by 300 votes for a two-year term, ousting then union president Jeffrey Follmer in a contentious election. Folmer had ousted Loomis two years earlier. 

Loomis' win comes on the heels of the police killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice and a scathing U.S. Department of Justice report released last December of  gross impropriety by Cleveland police from illegal deadly force, to vicious pistil whippings of adults and children, and "cruel and unusual punishment against the mentally ill."

Asked by Cleveland Urban News.Com during a 2012 interview following his loss to Follmer if it were a reflection on whether the union's rank and file support or reject the Jackson administration, Loomis, who joined the force in 1992, said at the time that he could not guess why he lost the union presidency.

"I don't know," said Loomis. "It may not be one way or another, but I like him [Mayor Jackson]."

Former Cleveland Police Patrolmen's  Association President Jeff Follmer (center) surrounded by some members of his union at a press 
conference in 2012
Follmer, 42, told Cleveland Urban News.Com during an interview after his election win in 2012 that he is a "police officer and not yet a politician."

A second district detective who worked in the vice unit that deals with drugs, prostitution and gambling, Follmer said that police are not getting a fair shake on employee benefits.

"Nobody likes to pay for health care when they don't get a raise," said Follmer, who like Loomis is White in a largely White Cleveland Police Department that serves a majority Black major American city. 

Follmer may have been a little too outspoken. He publicly called the shooting death in 2012 of unarmed Blacks Malissa Williams and Tim Russell, both gunned down with police slinging 137 bullets following a car chase that began in downtown Cleveland and ended in neighboring East Cleveland, "a good shooting." And in the midst of the Williams-Russell fiasco, he led the union in unsuccessfully calling for the resignation of then police chief Michael McGrath, now the safety director. And he publicly criticized Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins for wearing a shirt last year at a  Browns game against the Bengals that read "Justice for Tamir Rice and Eric Crawford."

Rice was slain by Cleveland police on November 22, 2014 at a public park on the city's largely White west side for sporting a top pellet gun, and Crawford was killed by police at a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio for picking up an air rifle off of a store shelf. 

Loomis, however, has come out aggressively too, defending police killings and opposing the new police body cameras, which are now a law per a city ordinance adopted last year by city council.

President since 2006 and until two years ago when ousted by Follmer, Loomis often battled with Jackson, the city's third Black mayor after Michael R. White, and the late Carl Stokes, the first Black mayor of a major American city. And he backed police in deadly force shootings , and with regards to practically everything else they did, good or bad.  

Loomis' predecessor before he was first elected, Bob Beck, often fought with White, who accused his own police of being racist in his third term as mayor. And Beck fought with former Cleveland Mayor Jane  Campbell, who succeeded White and  lost to Jackson in 2005 after one term in office.

“He [Jackson] has more administrators and cabinet members than former mayors Campbell and White and he has failed to prioritize services by targeting the safety forces,” Loomis said during the 2009 interview. “He [Jackson] bragged during his campaign about a balanced budget and no layoffs for 2010. He was being disingenuous.”

A Democrat and former city council president with ties to Cleveland's old Black political guard, Jackson once had Loomis suspended for two weeks because of an aggressive altercation with Black on Black Crime founder and community activist Art McKoy at an anti-police brutality rally.

"I always thought that Steve Loomis was too rough around the edges," said McKoy.

It's no secret that Cleveland police have perceived friction with the Black community, something typical in largely Black urban cities like Cleveland, a city with a population of some 400,000 people. But the relationship with Cleveland's Black community and the city's police has become even more strained in recent years with several high profile police killings, and an increasing number of settlements for excessive force and wrongful death lawsuits.

In addition to recent arbitrary police killings from Rice to Tanisha Anderson,a mentally ill woman who was killed  police last November at her home on the city's east side, and while in custody, Loomis took heat in 2011 after then Cleveland NAACP President George Forbes, with a dozen Black leaders in support, including state legislators and Cleveland City Councilmen Zack Reed and Jeff Johnson, held a press conference against police. At that press conference, Forbes accused police that were moonlighting in Cleveland's Warehouse District of roughing up Blacks that patronize the restaurants and bars there.

Loomis said that Forbes and his comrades on the issue lacked validity and were really lobbying for Jackson to win public support due to contentious union contract negotiations with the mayor and the city's union negotiating team.

Police were also called to task for releasing since convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell from police custody in 2008 in spite of a rape complaint where six of the 11 murdered Black women that were killed at Sowell's home on Imperial Ave. on Cleveland's majority Black east side went missing after 2008, public records show.

The serial killer, who dismembered the bodies of some of  the women he killed, got the death penalty from Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Dick Ambrose. His 2011 murder and other convictions, and his death sentence, are currently on appeal before the Ohio Supreme Court.

Some family members of the victims had complained that their missing persons reports were ignored because the women were Black, poor, and at least some had substance abuse problems.

And in 2009 fifth district police officers were accused of calling Rebecca Whitby, then a 24-year-old college student, a nigger, and of beating her unnecessarily, an elderly White neighbor in the Collinwood neighborhood said.

In 2010, community activists protested against police for what they said was police misconduct and brutality against then Collinwood High School students and sisters Destini and DeAsia Bronaugh. They both were attacked, arrested, and jailed in conjunction with a peaceful student -organized protest at the school around teacher layoffs and school closings.

Also, damning accusations of police misconduct came when third district police officers Paul Crawford, Martin Lentz, Christopher Randolph and Kevin Smith, all White men, were charged in federal district court in Cleveland with felonious assault and obstruction of official business after allegedly beating and brutalizing Edward Henderson on News Years day in 2011

Caught on video from an unassuming helicopter, the alleged beating and unnecessary force against Henderson, who is Black, shined a tainted picture of Cleveland police, with some community leaders and activists calling the leadership of Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath into question.

Henderson, who served a three year prison sentence for felony fleeing and eluding, took police on a high speed chase but was allegedly beaten by the four policemen even after he got out of his car and on the ground and put his arms behind his back. He subsequently won damages of $600,000 relative to a Civil Rights lawsuit filed against police and the city. 

Community activists say that police get away with murder because of their status as cops, and that it is detrimental to the Black community, and others.

Abdul Qahhar, the leader of the Cleveland Chapter of the New Black Panther Party, said that police in Cleveland, and nationwide, have collectively disenfranchised Black and other minority communities.

"They have unchecked power and that is why Black men and other people are being murdered by police in Cleveland and throughout this country," said Qahhar. ( / (