A Safer Cleveland
EP is humbled that we were recently asked to document the #SaferCLE event surrounding Citizens for a Safer Cleveland. If you are unaware of their current mission, they are putting their feet to the pavement to get signatures for their petition for real accountability in Cleveland, to make sure all our communities feel safe and secure. No exceptions.
Citizens for a Safer Cleveland believe that Clevelanders deserve fair and independent investigations of police misconduct, and those investigations must result in real consequences for police that violate the law or their own department’s policies.
That’s why a diverse coalition of concerned organizations, activists, and individuals — with the leadership of families who have lost a loved one to police violence — are coming together to demand real justice and accountability for our families. Together, they are working to strengthen community oversight of the Cleveland Division of Police.
Citizens for a Safer Cleveland's #SaferCLE event brought together a number of activist organizations and individuals including but not limited to: Ohio Organizing Collaborative, Ohio Student Association, Black Lives Matter Cleveland, Building Freedom Ohio.
About Ohio Organizing Collaborative
Ohio Organizing Collaborative (OOC) is a grassroots people-centered power organization. They unite base-building community organizing groups, student associations, and faith organizations, with labor unions, and policy institutes throughout Ohio. It is their mission to organize everyday Ohioans, building transformative power organizations for racial, social, and economic justice. Their vision is to build a democratic multi-racial populist governing coalition in Ohio.
The OOC is made up of grassroots organizing membership projects and campaigns that span a broad range of leaders, communities, and intersecting issues: students, people of faith, people directly impacted by mass incarceration, unemployed workers, child care providers, and the families they serve, and people working in the care economy. Our organizing centers people of color, women, and young people in a multiracial, intergenerational organization.
At the local and state levels, Their priorities are centered around:
- Economic justice, such as raising wages, healthcare, income support, safety net, and access to affordable quality education from pre-K through college
- Criminal justice reform, such as bail reform, police and prosecutor accountability, community reinvestment, and drug policy reform
- Structural democracy reform, by expanding voting rights
Three Key Strategies
- Grassroots community organizing for power
- Their grassroots organizing membership projects are led by inclusive leadership teams that run impactful local and statewide issue campaigns and leadership development programs
- Large scale civic engagement
- OOC builds independent political power for our communities by expanding the electorate and engaging no to low propensity voters, especially young voters and voters of color in the civic process.
- Narrative change and strategic communications
- They construct strategic public communications campaigns and infrastructure with a Race-Class Narrative framework that advances our world view, values, and the issues we care about and amplifies our leaders in the public arena.
POLICE SHOULDN'T POLICE THEMSELVES
Ohio Student Association
The year was 2012.
Occupy Wall Street had captured the world’s imagination, with thousands of occupations springing up virtually overnight, and the murder of Trayvon Martin had unleashed a wave of mass protest that quickly spread across the country. In Columbus, Ohio, a group of students were dreaming of universal access to higher education without the burden of debt; of equal access to quality K-12 education for all of Ohio’s children; and of an end to the criminalization of black and brown youth. Like so many other young people, they were inspired by the electricity of the mass mobilization moment that they found themselves in. Sure that the change they had been dreaming of was just around the corner if only they organized for it, they founded the Ohio Student Association.
2012 ended and the revolution didn’t materialize, but OSA didn’t stop dreaming and didn’t stop fighting for those dreams. They learned how to use the tools of the traditional model of Alinsky-ite community organizing and won their first campaign, succeeding in stopping Stand Your Ground from becoming law in Ohio. OSA trained hundreds of young leaders from across the state through our annual Fellowship for Community Change. They organized to demand justice for John Crawford III, who was murdered by police at a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio, and became a national voice in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. They’ve organized and won campaigns at the state level to protect voting rights and increase funding to the Ohio College Opportunity grant in the state’s budget and on the campus level to protect students from unfair costs and to make higher education more accessible to formerly incarcerated students.
They've run civic engagement programs, registering more than 20,000 people in 2016, researched and distributed voter guides, and in 2018 OSA helped to collect the second-highest number of petition signatures in Ohio’s history to put Issue 1 on the ballot. Issue 1 would’ve freed thousands by reducing 4th and 5th-degree drug possession and helped untold thousands more by investing the savings into addiction treatment and support programs, and while they didn’t win, they completely changed the conversation around addiction and incarceration in Ohio.
OSA will continue to fight for true community safety, which doesn’t come through more policing and more cages, but through ensuring every community and every person has the resources they need to live with dignity.
Black Lives matter Cleveland
Established in December of 2015 one year after the murder of Tamir Rice. Inspired by the 21st Century “Black Lives Matter/Hands Up Don’t Shoot” Movement which was sparked by the systemic culture of violence in America which disproportionately claims the lives of Black and Brown people alongside a fatally biased cradle to the grave prison industrial complex.
Martin Luther King Jr. pointed to racism, capitalism, and militarism as the three evils that plague an American society. More than 40 years after his prophetic witness, his words remain true. The New Jim Crow, per Michelle Alexander, looms from cradle to the grave in marginalized communities and provides evidence of such racial and socioeconomic disparities in America.
TAMIR RICE: NATIVE SON
Tamir was taken from us at the age of 12-years old on November 22, 2014, in Cleveland, OH at Cudell Community Center. Two police officers, 26-year old Timothy Loehmann and 46-year old Frank Garmback responded after receiving a police dispatch call describing a “young black male” brandishing a gun at people in a city park.
A caller reported that a juvenile was pointing “a pistol” at random people in the Cudell Recreation Center, and stated twice that the gun was “probably fake”. The officers reported that upon their arrival, Tamir reached towards a gun in his waistband.
Loehmann fired two shots within a second of arriving on the scene, hitting Tamir once in the torso. The toy gun was an Airsoft replica. Tamir died on the day after the shooting, his death ruled a homicide by the Cuyahoga County medical examiner.
We are mindful that while the gun was a toy, Ohio is an open-carry state. The responding officers did not offer aid to Tamir and four minutes passed before an undercover agent in the area arrived to offer aid to Tamir. Prior to this, Tamir’s older sister in a state of trauma was restrained, handcuffed, and placed in the back of the police cruiser after coming to her brother’s aid.
What would this ballot measure do?
This amendment is a common-sense approach that ensures independent oversight of investigations into police misconduct and gives final authority on discipline decisions to a board of community leaders. This means that community members, from every part of our city, will have a hand in improving accountability within our police department to ultimately build a Safer Cleveland.
This ballot measure specifically expands the investigative and disciplinary powers of the Civilian Police Review Board, an independent body appointed by the Mayor that investigates alleged misconduct by police employees. It also establishes a permanent Community Police Commission to serve as the final city authority regarding the discipline of police officers, and it provides the community with an ongoing voice on policing and community safety policies.
How will this impact the city’s budget?
It won’t — it will actually save taxpayers money. This campaign is about delivering real accountability for our communities by ensuring fair and independent investigations into police misconduct. Since 2014, the City of Cleveland has paid out $24 million in settlements arising from police misconduct — far more than the city paid in the years before. Independent community oversight is a tried and tested way to move policing in our city in the right direction and stop wasting taxpayer dollars on settlements for police wrongdoing.
what’s needed to qualify this for the ballot, and when would people get to vote on this?
Their campaign needs to collect more than 6,000 signatures to put this issue on the ballot. Click here to learn where and how you can get involved as we collect signatures across Cleveland.
They expect that Cleveland residents will get the chance to vote on this measure for common-sense police accountability in the fall of 2021.