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Cleveland Drops Curfew Violation Charges Against Downtown Resident

Cleveland city prosecutors this week dropped curfew violation charges against Downtown resident and Bail Project staffer Anthony Body.  [Nick Castele / ideastream]
Cleveland city prosecutors dropped charges this week against Downtown resident and Bail Project staffer Anthony Body.

Updated 7:15 p.m., 6/25/2020

Cleveland city prosecutors are dropping charges against a Bail Project staffer arrested for breaking Downtown curfew despite living and working there.

Police stopped Anthony Body twice on the Monday after the city’s May 30 demonstrations. Although Body showed them identification with his Downtown address, officers arrested and jailed him. He was charged with two misdemeanors for failing to comply with police enforcement of Mayor Frank Jackson’s curfew order.

Prosecutors did not elaborate on their reasons for dropping charges in a motion filed in Cleveland Municipal Court on Wednesday.

“For good cause shown and review of the order in question and the facts surrounding this case, Plaintiff moves to terminate the charges,” city prosecutor Jonathan Cudnik wrote in the motion.

The city has not responded to ideastream’s request for comment.

Body told ideastream that he was glad to see the case resolved.

“I would like an apology,” Body said, “but if not an apology, just the mayor and the chief of police and other elected officials taking a deeper dive and a deeper look into the way things happen.”

That deeper look would examine inequities in the justice system, Body said.

“I was blessed to have a lawyer to represent me,” he said. “I was blessed to have my neighbors downtown to back me and to say that the charges should be dropped. But everyone doesn’t have—there’s not a lot of people who have that type of support system.”

The Jackson administration instituted the curfew the evening of May 30 – and later expanded it – after demonstrations against the police killing of George Floyd boiled over into vandalism. The curfew order prohibited people from moving through Downtown, but exempted residents traveling to essential activities.

Police first stopped Body as he biked into Downtown across the Detroit-Superior Bridge after picking up food, he said. At first, he said, he told an officer he lived Downtown and continued riding until police made him stop. They ran his ID and issued him a citation.

Later, officers flagged Body down again at East 6th Street and Superior Avenue as he rode his bike from his Downtown apartment to the Justice Center, where he was to post bond for Bail Project clients. He stopped at East 3rd Street, where police checked his ID, arrested him, took him to jail and confiscated his bike, according to a police report.

A municipal judge released Body on a personal bond the following day. Body has retrieved his bike since his release.

Alan O’Connell, president of Downtown Cleveland Residents, called the arrest a “mistake” in a letter to the mayor last week, asking the city to drop the case.

“This man, our neighbor, had his freedoms and property taken away despite the fact that he proved he lives downtown,” O’Connell wrote.

Eric Long, Body’s attorney, said he expects prosecutors could dismiss charges against other defendants arrested in the wake of the demonstrations and curfew.

“The troubling thing to me is there’s very little accountability, and these police officers were not trained appropriately in advance of the protest and the implementation of the curfew,” he said. “And these officers took it upon themselves to make decisions that I believe were unconstitutional.”

Nick Castele is a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media.