Wednesday, July 8, 2015

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch opposes request for changes in the consent decree on Cleveland police reforms made by the Cleveland NAACP amid a squabble between branch lawyers against Mayor Jackson and National NAACP President Cornell William Brooks....The disagreement could bring prolonged litigation that Lynch does not want....The controversy comes on the heels of Judge John O'Donnell's racist Brelo verdict, a verdict supported by County Prosecutor Tim McGinty....By Cleveland Urban News.Com, Ohio's leader in Black digital news

U.S.  Attorney General Loretta Lynch

By Kathy Wray Coleman, editor-in-chief, Cleveland Urban News. Com and the Cleveland Urban News.Com Blog, Ohio's Most Read Online Black Newspaper and Newspaper Blog. Tel: 216-659-0473. Email: Coleman is a 22-year political, legal and investigative journalist who trained for 17 years, and under five different editors, at the Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio.  ( / ( 

Cleveland NAACP Attorney James Hardiman
CLEVELAND, Ohio-The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which is led by Loretta Lynch, the country's first Black female attorney general, has filed a brief in federal district court opposing changes to a consent decree on police reforms in Cleveland requested last week in an amicus brief filed by the Cleveland Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Collaborative for a Safe, Fair and Just Cleveland, and the Cleveland Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

In the matter of United States v. City of Cleveland (1:15-cv-1046) officials representing Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and representatives for Lynch negotiated the consent decree under court oversight and following findings last year by the DOJ of systemic problems in the city's largely White Cleveland Police Department. Those scathing findings include a pattern of illegal excessive force killings, vicious pistil whippings of innocent women and children, and cruel and unusual punishment against the mentally ill.

Lynch said,  via a court filing Wednesday on behalf of her office by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Carole Rendon, that everything cannot be included, and  no changes in the consent decree "are warranted."

Chief Federal District Court Judge Solomon Oliver

Chief Federal District Court Judge Solomon Oliver, who approved the consent decree on June 12, will decide if any changes to the settlement between the city and the DOJ will come. 

Cleveland Civil Rights attorney James Hardiman, co-chair of the Criminal Justice Legal Redress Committee of the Cleveland branch of the NAACP, said last week that  the consent decree has "unworkable stipulations that must be remedied."

Cleveland NAACP President The Rev. Hilton Smith
The Cleveland NAACP, which is led by branch president the Rev Hilton Smith, has lost what was once clout as one of the strongest branches in the nation, and has been all but shut out of the process amid a squabble between some branch officials and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, though the mayor still has a degree of influence with the group. 

Also in the mix is National NAACP President Cornell William Brooks, who has stalled the branch election for officers and the executive committee that was initially scheduled for late last year per the organization bylaws.

National NAACP President
Cornell William Brooks

Smith has been mum on the consent  decree issue as Hardiman, who represented the branch relative to the now defunct Cleveland schools desegregation court order, which was dissolved in 1998, has taken the lead in the controversial matter. And Hardiman, also a criminal defense lawyer and  former interim branch president,  is a fighter, which could bring prolonged litigation that Lynch said in her response brief is unnecessary.

District Attorney Steve Dettelbach
Also supporting the mayor, and representing Lynch, is Steve Dettelbach, the district attorney for the Northern District of Ohio

Among the changes requested are an inspector general that does not report to Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams, who is Black, the barring of police from policing themselves,  particularly  in deadly  excessive force cases, a stronger community policing commission committed to biased free policing, and the removal of blanket testimony immunity for cops relative to monitoring measures under the consent decree at hand.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson

The fight over the consent decree comes on the heels of what community activists say is a  racist verdict issued in May by Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge John O'Donnell that acquitted White Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo of two counts of voluntary manslaughter.  Racial unrest followed, and 71 protesters were arrested. 

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams

Cuyahoga County Court 
of Common Pleas Judge
 John O'Donnell
Brelo was the only police officer charged out of 13, none of them Black, that gunned down unarmed Blacks Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell in 2012 while slinging 137 bullets. 

Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo
County Prosecutor Tim McGinty, a former longtime common pleas judge himself who protected the other 12 police officers from prosecution, has supported O'Donnell relative to the verdict.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty

Other high profile Cleveland police murder cases include Tanisha Anderson, 12-year-old Tamir Rice, Daniel Ficker, and Kenneth Smith.

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