CLEVELAND (WJW) – Security was tight in Cleveland with dozens of extra police officers and trucks blocking intersections and roads around Playhouse Square and city hall to manage a large mobile protest.
The demonstration started at 4 p.m. Monday and continued until after 7 p.m., at times moving down E. 9th Street and other roads disrupting traffic and some workers.
“It’s been chaotic. There’s no way to go anywhere, everywhere is blocked,” said Shakendra Kirby, ”It’s making it hard for us trying to work right now.”
More than 100 pro-Palestinian marchers chanted and carried signs calling for a “Free Palestine” and to “abolish Israel” among other things, while holding bundles made to look like deceased babies.
They gathered at that location to send a message to Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, Governor Mike DeWine and other lawmakers who were holding the All-in Ohio Leadership Forum inside the State Theater at 1519 Euclid Avenue.
Next, they marched to city hall for the regularly scheduled council meeting.
During public comment, several protestors expressed their anger with leaders for publicly supporting Israel after the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas that killed at least 1,200 Israelis because they say innocent Palestinians are dying too.
“Mayor Bibb, when you say that Cleveland stands for Israel, you are just speaking for yourself,” said one unidentified woman.
“We can not stay silent while elected representatives in Washington and Ohio enable the mass killing of civilians overseas,” said an unidentified man.
Once public comment ended, the group continued chanting and yelling despite attempts by council president Blaine Griffin to quiet them down so that regularly scheduled business could move forward.
Eventually they left without any further disruptions.
But at least one pro-Israel counter protestor was disturbed.
“Not too long ago that happened in Germany,” said Saih Popieker. “That’s why I’m standing here. We’re not going to take this in stride, we’re going to be proud of being Jewish.”
One gentleman in the crowd said he attended to call for peace and an end to the conflict and tragic loss of life.
Rev. Dr. Napoleon Harris said he supported Jewish people after Oct. 7 and is now also showing support for Palestinian civilians who are being killed in the conflict.
“We can all agree that the bombing of children is bad, the kidnapping and killing of people is bad and I don’t think there’s anything polarizing about that. I’m against the rise in anti-Semitism here and abroad as I am the bombing of civilian hospitals, families and houses,” said Harris.
The protestors were also demanding that the city council pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire, but neither council nor the mayor has responded to that request.
The demonstrations ended without any reports of physical violence or property destruction as of Monday night