Cleveland-issued curfew causes confusion for some residents, workers downtown

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — An unprecedented days-long curfew in downtown Cleveland has prevented additional violence and looting, but its inconsistent implementation has left many residents confused.

Barricades manned by police, troopers and National Guard troops blocked entrances to downtown and portions of Ohio City in the curfew zone.

Cleveland Police, including on bicycle and horseback, patrolled mostly empty downtown streets and questioned possible curfew violators.

About 20,000 people live within the restricted zone.

Mandy Pollard, who lives in the Warehouse District, said an officer stopped her Sunday while she was out walking her dog.

“I made it probably 500 feet form the entrance to my building, and a cop car did a U-turn and stopped me and said any residents outside were subject to arrest until 8 a.m. tomorrow,” she said.

A curfew order by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson exempts residents traveling to and from home, those traveling for medical needs and people traveling to and from work during business hours and encourages businesses to close.

However, Sunday and Monday, some residents and media members were not allowed through certain downtown checkpoints amid confusion over the parameters of the curfew order.

Officers from different agencies provided different answers and sometimes directed people to other checkpoints for entry.

“I was really confused about what was going on,” said downtown resident Debbie Barber. “I couldn’t go to work this morning. I was worried about not being able to get back.”

Pollard said she spent two hours trying to enter the secured zone to get home.

“Even some of the cops would be like, ‘I can’t let you in at this exit’, but two checkpoints down I hear they’re letting people through. Those inconsistencies just create frustration and confusion,” Pollard said.

Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack, who represents residents affected by the curfew, said residents were left unsure if they could leave home for groceries or to walk the dog.

“There was really poor communication coming into it, and it led to a lot of confusion,” McCormack said, noting even he struggled to get answers from the Jackson’s administration. 

In a statement released Monday, the City of Cleveland clarified that residents should be allowed to come and go from the curfew zone with proper identification proving their residency.

While residents are asked to remain home as much as possible, the statement said they are allowed out to walk pets and for essential travel, such as to attend medical appointments or to get groceries.

City leaders said Tuesday that contractors and private security are allowed inside the zone, but office workers are not and businesses should remain closed.

“I understand we’ve got to keep a safe downtown, but we also need to take into consideration the needs of our residents,” McCormack said, calling for increased communication from city leaders and consistency among law enforcement.

The curfew is set to extend through 8 p.m. Tuesday, but Jackson said it may be extended if a threat remains locally or based on national events.

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