Protesters across Northeast Ohio march to fight against racial inequality

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — Several communities and local organizations are holding events Saturday to speak out against police brutality and racial inequality.

This weekend protesters plan to assemble in multiple Northeast Ohio cities, including Cleveland, Canton, Eastlake and Strongsville. SkyFOX will soar above these demonstrations to provide a live look as they take place.

Saturday’s demonstrations follow a 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.

George Floyd (Image courtesy of family attorney Ben Crump Law Firm via CNN)

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.

6 p.m. update:

CANTON, Ohio (WJW) — A small group of protesters met outside the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton for a Unity Coalition march.

Those in attendance were asked to wear suits and dresses. Organizers say they are marching for justice, equality, and to end systemic oppression and racial profiling.

Calls against injustice continue to ring through Northeast Ohio.

“We’re in the heart of one of our biggest commerce centers in the city of Cleveland which is Shaker Square, so we want to prove to the world and show the world, we in the Buckeye-Shaker community support peaceful protest,” said Cleveland Ward 6 Councilman Blaine Griffin.

Saturday’s “No Justice, No Peace Walk” was organized by Meredith Turner and Richmond Heights Councilwoman Kim Thomas.

Griffin said it was important for the march to be led by so many strong powerful women. 

“I wanna acknowledge the women fighting for greater Cleveland is because 75% of our neighborhoods are single-parent households. You know a lot of us can relate to brother George Floyd when he called out for his mother.”

Drumming and dancing from Djapo Cultural Arts Institute joined the calls for justice and Griffin says local businesses like Edwins showed their support.

A moment of silence was held for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

Thomas says she’s hopeful but says racism is a public health crisis.

“Racism is a very hard conversation for many of us to discuss but it is necessary in order for us to understand the impact it has had on black and brown people. This conversation must lead to real action through policy and legislation change. We still have work to do.”

In Canton, people came together outside of the pro football hall of fame.

Organizer Eric Osborne said he chose the spot to honor the peaceful protests of Colin Kaepernick and encouraged people to dress in their best.

“They see us in the streets and think that were thugs. The clothes don’t make us, we make the clothes regardless of what we’re wearing we should still be treated with the same respect.”

The Kent State graduate and Canton protest leader Sierra Mason also say it was a nod to the past. 

“To kind of bring back the historical way of protesting. They a lot of times when they protested would dress up.”

“It kind of hits home with us still having to protest George Floyd’s death,” said Osborne.

Mason has held other protests in the Canton area. “Our ultimate goal is to see a change and I think the change that I want to see is a change in policy.”

They both expressed disappointment in their local leadership but Mason says there is still momentum for change coming from Canton. 

“We’ve peacefully protested consistently and we are making noise.”

That noise in concert with other northeast Ohio cities. “It’s about how do we empower people to recognize that their biggest weapon in all of this is their right to vote,” said Griffin.

4 p.m. update:

CLEVELAND (WJW) — Protesters are continuing to march through downtown Cleveland. They walked over the Detroit-Superior bridge and are now in the area of West 25th near the West Side market. They are being escorted by Cleveland bike patrol.

3 p.m. update:

CLEVELAND (WJW) — Protesters are marching through downtown Cleveland Saturday afternoon in the names of Desmond Franklin and Sean Monterrosa.

Protesters gathered in front of the federal courthouse around 2 p.m. where they listened to a speaker.

Then, around 4 p.m., they will march to the Lorain Bridge and hear a second speaker. There will also be a prayer ceremony.

Demonstrators will then continue down West 25th Street to the Detroit Superior Bridge and back to the Justice Center.

Desmond Franklin (Courtesy: Black Lives Matter Cleveland)

Franklin was shot and killed in April by an off-duty Cleveland Police officer who was driving an unmarked vehicle, according to the NAACP Cleveland branch.

After an exchange of words at a local convenient store, both Franklin and the officer departed in their separate vehicles and were stopped at the light parallel to one another on Pearl Road.

The officer alleged that Franklin brandished a gun at him and later reported that he thought he had been shot. That’s when the officer opened fire through his vehicle’s window and shot Franlin in the head. This caused him to lose control of the vehicle and crash into a cemetery. He died.

Franklin’s teenage passenger ran out of the vehicle to search for help.

Meanwhile, the officer contacted Cleveland dispatch and reported the incident as self-defense because of the alleged exchange of gunfire between the two parties.

2:30 p.m. update:

LAKEWOOD, Ohio (WJW) — Residents have gathered in Lakewood Park Saturday afternoon for the Black Lives Matter Unity Rally.

Black Lives Matter Unity Rally in Lakewood Park on June 13, 2020. (SkyFOX Photo)

Organizers say the rally aims to create a dialogue that spreads awareness and educate fellow community members on the effects of systemic racism in the United States and the immense need for police reform.

In lieu of June being Pride month, event leaders say they want to utilize this opportunity as a way to create a voice not only for Black lives but especially the LGBTQ+ Black lives who experience targeted racism at heightened levels every single day.

“This is a chance for us to join together to fight the system and to bring about change where we need in the most,” organizers wrote on Facebook.

10 a.m. update:

(WJW) — Floyd’s death has sparked all kinds of demonstrations across the country, from protests and riots to the removal of Confederate symbols, as well as conversations about racism in America.

Protesters began flooding the streets of Northeast Ohio about three weeks ago, just days after his death. Most demonstrations have remained peaceful, however, the first weekend several protests turned violent.

Two weeks ago, a demonstration that took place in downtown Cleveland left significant damage across the city. It began peacefully before escalating Saturday afternoon.

Several businesses were heavily damaged, vehicles were set on fire and some officers were injured. There have been over 100 arrests in the Cleveland protests.

Police are still actively investigating and reviewing video evidence connected to the downtown rioting incidents. They are also investigating some complaints against officers.

Continuing coverage, here.

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