Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Black federal judge Solomon Oliver denies Cleveland NAACP's request for changes in consent decree between city and DOJ on police reforms.... U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and district attorney Steve Dettelbach say everything is just fine, while Cleveland NAACP Attorney James Hardiman and other groups demand more community input, bias- free community policing, and the removal of blanket testimony immunity for cops, among other request for changes.... By Cleveland Urban News.Com Editor-in-Chief Kathy Wray Coleman

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Solomon Oliver, who oversees the consent decree between the city of Cleveland and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on police reforms

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 six different editors, at the Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio.  ( / ( 

U.S.  Attorney General Loretta Lynch
CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Cleveland NAACP, the Collaborative for a Safe, Fair, and Just Cleveland, and the Ohio Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild on Tuesday lost an official request to chief U.S. District Court Judge Solomon Oliver, who is Black, for changes in the consent decree for police reforms between the city of Cleveland and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Olivier is the overseer of the consent decree settlement filed in June in federal district court. 

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson
The request for the changes came in the form of an amicus brief or what is also called a friend of the court brief filed on behalf of the community groups by longtime Cleveland NAACP attorney James Hardiman, who also represented the NAACP in the now defunct Cleveland schools desegregation case titled Reed v. Rhodes, which was dissolved in 1998. 
Cleveland NAACP Attorney James Hardiman

"To the extent that the interested groups wish to have the United States or the city address issues in a manner different than that provided by the consent decree, the better course is to continue to work with and through them to provide input," Oliver said in his order, a suggestion, said sources yesterday, that the federal judge wants the city and community groups to do his job, and to fight it out. 

In the matter of United States v. City of Cleveland (1:15-cv-1046) officials representing Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and representatives for U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who leads the DOJ, 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 police killings, vicious pistil whippings of innocent women and children, and cruel and unusual punishment against the mentally ill.

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

What move, if any, Hardiman will make next, remains to be seen, though sources said yesterday that "it ain't over."

Hardiman has said that the consent decree "has unworkable stipulations that must be remedied." 

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams
Among the consent decree 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, and a stronger community policing commission committed to bias- free policing.

The Cleveland NAACP also wants the removal of blanket testimony immunity for cops relative to consent decree monitoring measures, a sticking point for some activists angry over heightened killings by police of unnamed Blacks in recent years, including 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was instantly shot and killed last year at a public park while sporting a toy gun.
Cleveland NAACP President the Rev. Hilton Smith
A police commission chosen last month has also angered Hardiman and some local NAACP officials, though the organization is divided, with some officials, including Cleveland NAACP President the Rev. Hilton Smith, who is also straddling the fence relative to the controversy,  backing Mayor Jackson and Attorney General Lynch's stance that the consent decree is fine in its current form.

Steve Dettelbach, the U.S. district attorney for the northern district of Ohio, also represents the DOJ in the matter, and he is a Jackson ally, and is also on board with the mayor and Lynch as to their steadfast positions that everything is just fine, and that the consent decree, which sets police reform measures for coming years,  does not need any tweaking whatsoever. 
U.S. District Attorney Steve Dettelbach

Opponents of the first ever 13 -member police commission, which was chosen by a selection committee appointed by Mayor Jackson and Dettelbach in conjunction with a mandate of the consent decree, say it shuts out Civil Rights groups, and nearly a third of the commission members, including former Democratic Lt governor Lee Fisher of Shaker Heights, live in neighboring suburbs, and not the largely Black impoverished city of Cleveland.   ( / (