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Bail Project Employee Sues Cleveland, Police Over June 2020 Curfew Arrest

Police and Ohio National Guard members monitor a checkpoint in Ohio City on June 1, 2020. [Nick Castele / ideastream]
Police and National Guard monitor a checkpoint in Ohio City on June 1, 2020. [Nick Castele / ideastream]

A Bail Project employee is suing the city of Cleveland and police officers over his arrest last year, saying his Downtown residency exempted him from the curfew order imposed after the May 30 demonstrations and rioting.

Officers detained Anthony Body in early June last year as he biked to the Justice Center to post bail for people arrested during the protests over George Floyd’s killing by police. He spent a night in jail before being released on a personal bond the next day.

It was the second time police had stopped him.

The first time, earlier that day, Body was biking back into Downtown after picking up lunch. He told ideastream last year that he showed officers his ID and was allowed to go after police ran his name and issued a citation.

City prosecutors later dropped the charges against Body.

In the wrongful arrest lawsuit filed in federal court Monday, Body’s attorneys argued both stops were unlawful because Mayor Frank Jackson’s curfew order made exceptions for Downtown residents traveling to pick up food, go home or get to and from work.

“There’s simply no probable cause to make that arrest,” Eric Long, one of Body’s attorneys, told ideastream Tuesday.

The lawsuit quotes from an ideastream interview last year with Mayor Frank Jackson and Police Chief Calvin Williams. Asked about Body’s arrest earlier that week, the mayor and chief said they weren’t aware of it.

“We don’t arrest people just because they’re in violation of the curfew, particularly if they’re Downtown residents,” Jackson said at the time.

Jackson’s office, which does not typically offer public statements on ongoing litigation, has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Long accused Cleveland of being unprepared for the demonstrations, saying the city should have trained officers better to carry out the curfew order. Body’s arrest happened not in the heat of the moment on May 30, which was a Saturday, but the Monday afterward, Long pointed out.

“This is Monday, things were calm,” Long said. “And again, I didn’t have that problem. Other people in my shoes who were wearing suits and looking like they were going to the courthouse as a lawyer don’t have that problem. Anthony Body has that problem, and it’s unacceptable.”

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.