CLEVELAND (WJW) — SkyFOX is soaring above several protests across Northeast Ohio Sunday afternoon.
Communities and local organizations have gathered together to fight against racial inequality and police brutality.
Sunday’s demonstrations follow a three-week-long nationwide string of protests and rallies in response to the death of George Floyd, as well as several other African Americans who died in police-involved incidents.
Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody on Memorial Day after an officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than 8 minutes. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. The three other officers at the scene — Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao — were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. All four were fired.
Sunday’s rallies also come in wake of the death of Rayshard Brooks, 27, who was fatally shot by police outside a Wendy’s restaurant in Atlanta on Friday.
Brooks had reportedly fallen asleep at the wheel in the Wendy’s drive-thru. Atlanta officers woke him and asked him to move his car into a parking spot, which he did. Officers then conducted a field sobriety test and told Brooks he was under arrest for a DUI.
Police body camera then shows the 27-year-old running away after grabbing an officer’s taser and, when he appears to point the taser at an officer, that officer fired his gun several times. Brooks was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Officer Garrett Rolfe was terminated after the incident and another officer, Devin Brosnan, was placed on administrative duty. The moves follow the Saturday resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, who stepped down as the Friday night killing of Rayshard Brooks, 27, sparked a new wave of protests in the city.
6 p.m. update:
HARTVILLE, Ohio (WJW) — Protesters are planning to meet in Hartville this evening to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
The organizer said she felt it was important to raise awareness in the community.
“I think it’s very important as a community that is predominantly white and has a vast amount of Christians and people who are allies to the black community to speak up on these issues! I think it’s time to show support for this very important movement!” she said.
The group will walk past some of the restaurants in the area and hold up signs.
4 p.m. update:
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) — Hundreds gathered in Cleveland Heights to speak out against police brutality and injustice in the community.
“Our community is not exempt from racially motivated violence at the hands of police. We call on the Cleveland Heights community to march in solidarity with Black residents in demanding accountability from our own police department and city council. We are showing up to say, in the face of racist policing and brutality, that Black lives matter,” Safer Heights said in a press release.
Founded a week ago, Safer Heights members spoke about personal experiences with racism and their desire for change.
“I want them to know that my life matters. I want them to understand that I am your friend, I’m your cousin, I’m your coworker, I’m your girlfriend,” said Safer Heights member Ryan Penson.
The family of Ralkina Jones also addressed the crowd. Jones dies in a Cleveland Heights jail holding cell in 2015. Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit a year later.
Still, the organizers say the march wasn’t about any one person.
“We’re putting our city council on notice. Knowing that we have a list of demands, that we’re not going to stop fighting for,” said Safer Heights member Desmond Pelligree. “We want a demilitarization of our police and we want to look at the budget, take that money and invest it back into our community.”
Here are their list of demands for local law enforcement:
1. We demand the immediate demilitarization of the police and divestment from the police budget, and reinvestment in educational resources, non-violent intervention specialists and social service programs that emphasize mental health support and rehabilitation.
2. We demand an immediate removal of police from schools.
3. We demand the creation of an independent civilian oversight board that reviews incidents of officer misconduct, incidents of use of force, and directs internal affairs investigations and determinations with power of disciplinary action.
4. We demand financial transparency via a quarterly line by line city budget report to Cleveland Heights residents.
5. We demand transparency on all police-citizen encounters via a quarterly report detailing all arrest and citation statistics, including offense, race, age, ability, gender, use of force, and ultimate case outcomes.
6. We demand specific, unified guidelines governing the investigation of sexual assault cases, and that all all reported sexual assaults be filed and investigated as such based on the victim’s statement and not as “miscellaneous” or “departmental information” based on officer discretion.
7. We demand an immediate decriminalization of the use and possession of marijuana in Cleveland Heights.
8. We demand a civilian led review of the Cleveland Heights Police Academy curriculum, and for classes to resume regardless of COVID19, digitally if necessary, in order to provide the required continuing education to Officers as mandated by the State of Ohio.
9. We demand that any police officer who turns off or obstructs their body camera during a civilian encounter be immediately suspended without pay and fined.
10. We demand a redirection of police time and effort away from issuing parking and traffic citations and towards investigating crimes committed against the community.
1 p.m. update:
CLEVELAND (WJW) — The Cleveland Biker Community is holding a protest ride escorted by Cleveland Police.
The peaceful “Protest On 2s” honors the lives lost to police brutality and takes a stand in solidarity against racial injustice and in support of police reform.
Bikers met at St. Clair Plaza on East 105th Street and St. Clair. They will then ride as one unit and arrive at the Justice Center for a protest.