Plan reveals Cleveland police expected little trouble from protest: I-Team

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) A FOX 8 I -TEAM investigation has uncovered an internal police document showing how rioters managed to take over downtown Cleveland streets last weekend for a long time before officers regained control.

The I-TEAM has obtained the “Event Action Plan” showing how Cleveland Police prepared for handling a protest. The protest erupted into riots, and the plan shows no mention of preparation for mass arrests.

Saturday, a big crowd gathered outside the Free Stamp calling for justice for George Floyd, a man who died in police custody in Minnesota. And while the gathering started peacefully, it ended up with rioting and looting and police cars burning.

A timeline of what led to protests, violence across the nation after the murder of George Floyd

The plan refers to being ready for “quick response and assessment to any civil unrest that may occur.”

But, oddly, it also mentions providing “safety services in a unified manner that enhances the celebration experience for all patrons…” No celebration for witnesses and businesspeople.

The plan called for units available for “immediate response” for “civil unrest” and watching for “violent and disruptive protestors.”

Though it also said there will be “enough traffic controllers on site to handle a march.” And, bike patrols would be expected to handle “crowd management issues”.

Trouble developed when the crowd moved toward the entrance of the Justice Center. Police called on the crowd to disperse, and officers and sheriff’s deputies started using pepper spray  to break up the crowd. They also use devices setting off loud bangs and clouds of smoke.

What happened on those steps raises more questions about how the police department prepared.

 Multiple sources say officers quickly ran out of what they were using for crowd control. Then, they had to wait for someone to drive across town, get more of the equipment, and come back with it.

Shortly after that, police cars and other city vehicles were set on fire. And eventually, mobs moved through the central business district looting stores.

All of this went on for hours before police regained control. By the end of the night, officers made dozens of arrests.

The written plan, however, does not reflect any units assigned to handle large groups of prisoners.

The disturbance in Cleveland exploded days after similar protests turned into riots in other cities.

And although Cleveland had been notified of the Saturday protest days in advance, the police chief and the Mayor have said they had no reason to expect or predict rioting and disorder here. They’ve pointed out, in the past,  protests against the police in Cleveland never turned violent.

Mayor Frank Jackson said, “We did handle this as well as we could. We did handle it well. The fact that it happened the way it happened was something we were not happy with.”

The police union spoke out earlier in the week saying the police department was unprepared. Jeff Follmer said equipment malfunctioned, and there were not enough officers.

We’ve sent questions to the police chief’s office regarding the “Event Action Plan” in light of what we’ve uncovered. And a spokesperson is working on responses.

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