Women's March Cleveland makes its last pitch for Issue 1 on Cleveland City Hall steps, days before the Nov 7 election on abortion access....The county prosecutor attended..... By Clevelanddurbannews.com, Ohio's Black digital news leader

Women's March Cleveland at its Cleveland City Hall steps rally  for Issue 1 on  Sat., Nov 4, 2023 

Clevelandurbannews.com and Kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com

Staff article

CLEVELAND,Ohio-Women's March Cleveland made its last pitch before Ohio's Nov. 7 election on abortion ballot Issue 1 with a rally on the steps of Cleveland City Hall on Saturday, Nov 4, a diverse event that included community activists and elected officials as speakers as well as Councilman Kevin Conwell's FootPrints band.

Issue 1 is on Ohio's Nov. 7 ballot and, if passed by Ohio voters, it would enshrine the legal right to abortion and other reproductive measures for women into the Ohio Constitution.

"We rose to the occasion and have stayed the course in this fight for reproductive freedom for Black women in Cleveland and  women in Ohio and Tuesday will be a day of reckoning when Ohio voters endorse Issue 1 at the ballot box," said Women's March Cleveland head organizer Kathy Wray Coleman, a longtime Black Cleveland organizer, activist and local journalist who has organized more than a dozen marches in Cleveland since 2018 under the umbrella of Women's March Cleveland..  

A formally educated Black activist and former high school biology teacher who supports higher education, Coleman told young attendees at Saturday's Issue 1 rally to get an education.

"Get an education," the activist and organizer said."It is one of the best weapons against oppression"

Speakers for Saturday's women's rights event in Cleveland included  state Sen. Nickie Antonio, City of Cleveland Community Relations Board Director Angela-Shute Woodson,  Councilpersons Stephanie Howse-Jones and Kevin Conwell, Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Chair David Brock and activists Maosha Maybach Vales, Linda Howard, and Brenda Adrine and Kim Dolin, who helped to organize the event, 

Sen Antonio, whose 23rd state legislative district includes 14 of Cleveland' 17 wards, never misses a women's march in Cleveland and urged activists to continue the fight and to stay in the trenches, and so did councilpersons Conwell and Howse, a former state lawmaker.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Mike O'Malley, who is up for reelection and faces a viable challenger amid demands for legal  system reform in the county from activists and a host of others, was also among the attendees. 

Coleman said that in spite of concerns, she recognized him before the crowd like she did with other elected officials there, and because it was proper protocol. 

"There is a time and place to take on these regional politicians of whom activists have a problem with and yesterday's issue 1 rally was not the place," she told reporters after the event. She went  on to say that "we are pleased that Prosecutor O'Malley supports a woman's right to choose and we urge him to adequately address unfair and illegal prosecutions against women and Black people by his office as well as the trend of trying an abundance of Black kids in the court of common pleas when Juvenile Court is often the more appropriate venue."

A highlight of the rally was targeted criticism of Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican and former U.S. senator who is aggressively pushing for an end to abortion access in Ohio His obsessive opposition to abortion drew chants at the rally  from community activists such as 'Hey hey. Ho ho, Governor DeWine has got to go."

Councilman  Conwell's  "FootPrints" band ended the event with a rendition of the great Mahilia Jackson song "We Shall Overcome," after he presented a city council resolution to Women's March Cleveland for its community work. 

Also performing at the rally were the Windsong reproductive rights singers. 

Women's March Cleveland has been in existence since some 15,000 women and their supporters took to the streets of Cleveland in 2017 to march for women's rights, a sister march to marches nationwide in cities throughout the country and the largest nationwide single day protest in American history. .

Polling shows that the proposed reproductive rights amendment to enshrine abortion into the Ohio Constitution will likely pass as early voting is currently underway.

Both Mayor Justin Bibb, who did not attend the rally led by Black women, and Cleveland City Council have endorsed and campaigned for Issue 1, the most watched issue on Ohio's November ballot. 

Last year, on June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Dobbs vs Mississippi Health Organization, which was on appeal to the nation's highest court, overturned Roe v Wade, the court's  1973 landmark decision that made abortion legal Nationwide The court also gave individual states the authority to legislate abortion and reproductive rights not regulated by federal law, including to restrict or outright outlaw the procedure altogether. It, no doubt, caused a firestorm of protests throughout the country, including in Ohio, a pivotal state for presidential elections that has trended red in recent elections.

More than 14 states have near-total abortion bans during any point in pregnancy in effect, and at least six states have implemented abortions bans with other limits from six to 20 weeks bans. Ohio has a six-week abortion ban dubbed the heartbeat bill that is on hold per a judge's ruling as lawsuits over the controversial state law make their way through the courts. If issue 1 passes it would negate the heartbeat bill and other anti- choice legislation cooked-up by Ohio's Republican- dominated state legislature.

Ohio will become the seventh state in the country to vote on abortion rights behind Kansas, Michigan, Kentucky, Vermont, Montana and California. All those states had either proposals that enshrined the right to an abortion, or that allowed the state to regulate abortion. 


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