Monday, March 9, 2015

Recall effort against Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson by Black Contractors Group and Attorney Nelson over mayor's stance on DOJ report of police killings, including Tamir Rice is losing steam as activists like Art McKoy jump ship saying police are the main problem, organizers of the recall effort are accused of targeting a Black mayor while leaving Whites like County Prosecutor Tim McGinty alone, Cleveland NAACP official calls recall effort a waste of time and money

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson
By Kathy Wray Coleman, editor-in-chief, Cleveland Urban News.Com and The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News, Ohio's leaders in Black digital news.  Coleman is a 22-year investigative journalist and political and legal reporter who trained for 17 years at the Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio. ( / (

CLEVELAND, Ohio- A recall effort against Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson that is being pushed by the Black Contractors Group and Cleveland Attorney Michael Nelson Sr. is becoming an uphill battle as community activists once interested in the almost impossible endeavor are jumping ship, the few that had contemplated supporting the initiative.

"I'm neutral," Black on Black Crime founder and community activist Art McKoy told Cleveland Urban News.Com earlier today.

McKoy, 71, attended the first of several planned recall meetings held Wednesday evening on the city's largely Black east side, and actually led the meeting along with Nelson and Norm Edwards and Ken Bender, key leaders of the Black Contractors Group. 

Since then McKoy has said that he is unsure of his stance on whether Jackson should be booted out of office.

Following his State of the City address to the City Club in Cleveland on Wednesday afternoon and in response to the recall meeting that drew some 80 people, Jackson said "more power to em."

Nelson is a criminal defense attorney and a lawyer for the Cleveland NAACP, which is currently suspended while the national headquarters investigates impropriety, and none of his comrades of the Civil Rights organization agree with him on the recall, at least not publicly.

"It is a waste of time and a waste of money," said Sara J. Harper, the third vice president of the Cleveland NAACP and a retired Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals judge.

The three-term mayor is under fire for saying that there are no systemic problems in the largely White Cleveland Police Department he has led since he first took office in 2006, even amid findings to the contrary by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Attorney General Eric Holder, though his posture has changed in recent weeks.

Jackson now wants a consent decree, and police reform, due in part to intrinsic problems that he says are "institutional."

The mayor says that he has always advocated substantive police reform, even as a former city council president. His critics say otherwise.

High profile police killings of unarmed  Blacks are also the focus of the recall, from the shooting death last year by Cleveland police of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, to the killing last year of Tanisha Anderson while in police custody, and the November 2012 slaying by 13 non-Black police officers slinging 137 bullets of unarmed Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell. 

Other concerns, say recall organizers, are pot holes on city streets and efforts by the Jackson administration to continue to beautify downtown Cleveland in preparation of the 2016 National Republican Convention while the largely Black inner city communities continue to deteriorate. Crime and abandoned homes plague the neighborhoods.

But what is also problematic to a number of community activists about the recall effort is its distraction away from the police department and the pattern of excessive force killings that the DOJ report highlights.

"I am more concerned with the Nazi police," said community activist Pierre Nappier, who has been a vocal critic of Mayor Jackson, 68, the city's third Black mayor.

In order for Cleveland City Council to place a recall of the mayor on the ballot, petitioner's must submit some 12,000 signatures within 30 days of securing petitions, an unlikely outcome 
since not one Black community leader or elected official, and virtually no greater Cleveland community activists leaders are supporting the recall effort.

"I do not support a recall," said long time community activist Bill Swain of the grassroots groups Revolution Books and Puncture the Silence. "All of the city mayors have presided over police murders."

Activist Ada Averyhart, 80, told Cleveland Urban News.Com that she supports "Mayor Jackson and Police Chief Calvin Williams."

The Rev. Pamela Pinkney-Butts, a community activist against the recall, said  that women have been subordinated and allegedly cursed out by Nelson, who she said "is disrespectful to women as are the other men pushing the recall that want women to take a back seat."

Also at issue is the refusal by both Nelson and Edwards, who says he is a retired contractor, to publicly criticize Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty, who is White, or any other Whites, even though McGinty successfully  lobbied a county grand jury to protect 12 of the 13 cops that gunned down Malissa Williams and Russell from prosecution. It worked, and only Patrolman Michael Brelo, who has pleaded not guilty and awaits trial before Common Pleas Judge John O'Donnell, is facing two counts of voluntary manslaughter

Williams, 30, and Russell, 43 were shot to death by police on November 29, 2012 following a car chase  that began in downtown Cleveland  and ended in a middle school parking lot in neighboring East Cleveland.

Brelo fired 49 of the 137 shots that killed the pair, both unarmed. A wrongful death suit was settled last year by the city for $3 million, to be split between the two families and their attorneys.

The one and only recall initiative on the ballot  for a mayor of Cleveland, a majority Black major American city, was in 1978 against former congressman and then mayor Dennis Kucinich. It failed by 236 votes and had the support of 24 of 33 council members.

Today city council has 17 members, none of whom have publicly voiced support of a recall of Jackson.

If the necessary 12,000 signatures are collected and petitions for recall are certified to city council, a special election must be held not less than 40 days and not more than 60 days thereafter.

The city charter also gives the mayor the opportunity to resign within five days after certification of recall petitions to city council.  

The city charter, however, does not say what should occur during the time between a potential voters' recall of Jackson and the 120 days in which a subsequent mayoral election must be held, and leaves a gap as to who would run the city in place of the mayor during that intermittent period. 

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