#CLEDemands Justice Campaign Responds to Sea of Blue Rally in Cleveland
By: #CLEDemands Justice Coalition / CDF-NAA Ohio
Spokesperson Jason Eugene for #CLEDemands and Children’s Defense Fund’s New Abolitionist Association stated, “People are quite cognizant of the fact that cops lives matter – we support cops too! What we don’t support is authority that abuses the public’s trust, covers up evidence and doesn’t hold itself accountable to the public. All officials and government employees are accountable to the people. What happened to Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson, John Crawford, Eric Garner and others are examples of this trust being broken… Proper police work and a fair justice system is what our movement is about. The officers involved in these recent tragedies, where unarmed and innocent people were killed, operated outside of their training and took matters into their own hands. What happened in New York to the two cops that were slain was a very unfortunate and tragic event; the actions of a rogue member of the community, and not the fault of protesters or the people behind this movement. Our target isn’t cops – It’s the system. Police departments are part of a system that encourages them to meet quotas to justify its existence. That system needs to change because it is targeting citizens, particularly black and brown citizens.”
Eva Barrett, a young activist from #CLEDemands and Case Western University, discussed another level of the Cleveland Police Department’s quagmire with its constituents. “We as activists need to recognize that we’re not just dealing with a police department suffering the systemic failures highlighted by the federal DOJ report. We’re dealing with a department that is literally made up of friends and family members; a community of people that views itself to be above the law. This ‘profound nepotism,’ as my mentor called it, has made changing community consciousness very difficult for protestors. Because of it, we are labeled as being, “anti-police.”
The recent police shootings in New York have also added a new element to Cleveland activists’ struggle for police and policy reform. “All of us were deeply disturbed by the deaths of the two NYPD officers,” said Eva. “Any loss of life on either side is a tragedy. But I am even more disturbed that these deaths are being used as grounds to defame and incriminate the peaceful efforts of community activists.”
#CLEDemands members recently met with Cleveland City Council members Matt Zone, Jeff Johnson, Brian Cummins and Zack Reed to negotiate reform issues two weeks ago in Gordon Square. The negotiations are currently on going, but the campaign stated it would be releasing the official transcripts of the meeting after the New Year. However, when campaign leaders discovered that there would be a Sea of Blue rally in Cleveland, they jumped into action.
"We began by monitoring their social media pages. Some of the things we saw were rather troubling to out-right offensive. Another thing we couldn’t help but notice was, nearly all the members of Sea of Blue were white and police officers. After reading their comments and viewing their activities, we felt affronted.”
Some Sea of Blue members posted on their Facebook page:
“It’s about time we show them how to protest like humans…“
“Peaceful lawful assembly… Proper permits were sought and obtained. Thousands of law abiding citizens showed to support law enforcement. What was noticeably absent was the mayor, chief of police and any council members from the City of Cleveland. Are they not representatives of all its citizens?
“What thugs those folks are…”
“Glad I could be a part of it. Beautiful crowd and peaceful message”
#CLEDemands organizers feel that these posts, in addition the production of a new Sea of Blue support T-shirts sporting ‘Breathe Easy, Don’t Break the Laws’ in direct mockery of Eric Garner, the NYC man who was strangled to death by police on the street is distasteful.
“It isn’t a gesture of peace. Instead, it is just as insensitive as when demonstrators in New York held protests at the funeral of the two fallen officers.”
The campaign stands behind its mission of addressing the systemic failures within the Cleveland Division of Police, and the formation of new policies which protects citizens from senseless violence by officers. In early January 2015, the #CLEDemands Justice Campaign stated they will be back out in the community in full force and performing more nonviolent action workshops.
Page Updated Last on: Dec 29, 2014