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Many Voices Heard at Cleveland’s Ward 7 “Stand In Solidarity” Rally

The march through Hough was lead by several Cleveland City Council members. [Gabriel Kramer / ideastream]
The march through Hough was lead by several Cleveland City Council members. [Gabriel Kramer / ideastream]

Hundreds gathered in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood on the East Side for the “Stand In Solidarity” rally Thursday night.

Demonstrators marched from the Thurgood Marshall Recreation Center to Fannie Lewis Community Park at League Park, chanting the same “No justice, no peace” and “Hands up, don’t shoot” that protestors around Cleveland had been preaching all week.

When the “George Floyd” chants came, Ward 7 Councilman Basheer Jones added the names of Desmond Franklin, Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams – all Clevelanders killed by police officers.

Hundreds of people joined the Thursday evening demonstration. [Gabriel Kramer / ideastream]

Jones was front and center, locking arms with Vincent Montague, president of the Black Shield Police Association, and Carolyn Watts Allen, a former Cleveland Public Safety Director as the group moved peacefully through the streets of a neighborhood that was the center of violent protests for five nights of riots in 1966.

Black Wearing Blue

Once the group reached the stage, Montague was one of the first to speak.

“We want to let the community know that we care,” Montague said. “Colin Kaepernick, he had that conversation started, but now we got to change policy.”

Standing alongside Cleveland police officers, Montague said he wants to see more African Americans in law enforcement to better represent the communities they serve.

Montague also spoke emotionally about how tough it can be to be a “black man in a blue uniform.”

Vincent Montague is the president of Cleveland's Black Shield Police Association. [Gabriel Kramer / ideastream]

Allen continued that thread in her speech, saying black police officers face the same issues as black citizens — while also working in a system historically racist toward black people, she said.

“They have to walk a very difficult line being subject to outside discrimination and being subject to inside discrimination,” Watts said. “When you begin to move the racism out of the decision making positions, then all of a sudden you get equity and people begin to be treated properly.”

Carolyn Allen Watts is a former Cleveland Public Safety Director. [Gabriel Kramer / ideastream]

For The Children

Before ending the rally, Jones asked the children in the crowd to gather in front of the stage. He talked about the fears some children have of police officers and the kind of conversations black parents have with their kids about staying safe around law enforcement.

“It’s something that children do to your heart that makes you say, ‘I can relate.’ And I think that children have that way of bringing out our humanity.” Jones said.

A number of children joined in the marching and chanting through Cleveland's Hough neighborhood. [Gabriel Kramer / ideastream]

This rally had a long roster of speakers that included several city council members from both the East and West sides, U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, loval cultural leaders and the family of Desmond Franklin, a black man killed by an off-duty Cleveland police officer in April.

But for Jones, the many voices were necessary.

"We collectively brought together every aspect of our community, from the congresswoman to the streets," he said. "We touched every aspect and showed that we all committed, at least in theory, to seeing our city do better."

Gabriel Kramer is a Filipino American journalist from Medina, Ohio. He studied journalism at Kent State University and is a proud member of the Asian American Journalists Association.