CLEVELAND (WJW) — Dozens of young people and local police officers gathered Thursday night inside the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse for an event called “Conversations for Change.”
“This is unheard of across the country,” said Kevin Clayton, V.P. of Diversity Inclusion & Community Engagement for the Cavaliers. “There were other teams doing things and we very quietly in Cleveland, we came together like we do for everything else. It wasn’t about ‘oh, look at us.’ It was, ‘let’s be about the business of change.’”
The alliance holds weekly meetings and come together whenever there is an issue but is primarily focused on three established goals:
- Improving the relationship between law enforcement and citizens
- Encouraging non-partisan voting activities
- Increasing opportunities for quality education for everyone.
Participants Thursday ranged from high school students to college graduates.
The Cleveland Police Foundations Pipeline Program and National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) also took part in the event which was designed to cultivate relationships and build trust.
“Not just chant, not just march, not just us telling you ‘yeah, we’re gonna change’ but getting everybody together to make sure there’s change,” said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams. “It’s an opportunity to do what’s right not just for this city, but for this country — to be the framework for people around the country.”
They say other cities are already taking note and trying to duplicate it, but the alliance and events aren’t about notoriety. Rather, they’re about transformational lasting change by talking, listening and coming up with unifying solutions.
All of the sports teams are also actively getting out in the community, donating and trying to make a positive impact on Northeast Ohio.
“It really is the core of who Clevelanders are we’re about results,” said Clayton.
One Kent State University graduate admitted that she was skeptical at first.
“I thought it sounded great but I was more concerned it was going to be something for optics,” said Katarina Smiley. “After working with them and they were willing to be receptive to our critiques, I think that spoke a lot to how committed they are.”
The hope is that all of the participants will share their experiences with others and once the pandemic is over to hold much larger events at the arena, ballpark and stadium.
“Thousands and thousands can come together with law enforcement and celebrate the change that starts here tonight, “ said Clayton.