FBI, local police urging peaceful protests ahead of Brelo verdict

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CLEVELAND – Local law enforcement leaders are preparing for unrest after the verdict in the manslaughter trial of Cleveland Officer Michael Brelo is released, but local and federal officials are hopeful all protests will be peaceful.

The FBI’s Deputy Director, who grew up on Cleveland’s west side, was back in town Thursday and told local reporters he believes police are prepared to handle whatever takes place.

“They need to take the lessons learned from Ferguson and from Baltimore and incorporate those into any plan they have going forward, and I think they are doing that,” said FBI Deputy Director Mark Giuliano.

Giuliano says he’s been talking to law enforcement sources, getting a sense that police and religious leaders have been in the streets, being upfront with folks, and he believes that is important.

Others in the community, including Police Union President Steve Loomis are calling for peaceful demonstrations.

“We all need to continue to work together to make our city an even better and safer place to be,” Loomis said. “Police and citizens alike need to unite to guard against outside groups with outside agendas and keep them from doing harm to Cleveland.”

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson also released a statement asking for calm.

“It is my expectation that protests remain peaceful and do not undermine the progress this community has made in ensuring that all citizens receive the respect they expect and deserve,” Jackson stated in the release.  “Actions that cross the line – by citizens or police officers - cannot and will not be tolerated.  We are all One Cleveland and we want the same thing: peace, dialogue and positive change.”

Brelo is facing two counts of manslaughter for his involvement in the November 29, 2012 chase and deadly shooting.

Giuliano said he too certainly hopes the demonstrations don’t become violent as they did in other areas.

“A lot of the changes have come from very good, very civil protests,” Giuliano said.  “When it goes from that to a criminal activity like you saw in Baltimore and other places, when you destroy the very city you live in, it is counter productive at that point and the message they are trying to send gets lost.”

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