Motion To Place Restraining Order On Cleveland Curfew Withdrawn

Detroit-Shoreway Bridge in Cleveland during Monday curfew.
An empty Detroit-Superior Bridge into Downtown Cleveland on the Monday morning after the curfew began. [Matthew Richmond / ideastream]

A motion to place a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the City of Cleveland to stop the enforcement of a nightly curfew Downtown and in the West 25th Street Market District has been withdrawn, on assurances from the city that the curfew would be allowed to expire.

Local attorney Mark Ondrejech, who filed the motion on behalf of Downtown residents, said the parties involved in the lawsuit came to an agreement by phone Thursday morning,

The city agreed not to extend the curfew beyond 6 a.m. Friday, he said.

However, according to a statement from the city's law department, “If new information is presented to the City of Cleveland, a new Declaration of Curfew may be ordered by the city within appropriate legal confines.”

That would be a new curfew, however, and not an extension, Ondrejech said.

“Meaning there has to be something that is coming up in the future they can point to and say they need to protect the city,” Ondrejech explained.

During a telephone town hall on Thursday evening, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson noted protests in the city so far this week have been peaceful.

“And as long as they stay that way then there should be no curfew instituted,” Jackson said. “If we have to do it, then we will but that’s not our preference to do that.”

The curfew began Saturday evening after a peaceful afternoon demonstration against police brutality ended with violence and extensive damage to Downtown businesses. The protests were in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who was videotaped crying out for help while a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The curfew, which affected Downtown Cleveland and the Market District of W. 25th Street, led to confusion and disruption for local businesses, residents and employees heading to work.

The lawsuit argued Cleveland’s curfew infringes on the Constitutional and fundamental rights of residents in the affected area by limiting their ability to freely move around the neighborhood.

“The Plaintiffs should not be required to abide by a curfew,” the motion reads. “Providing papers, proving one’s identity and being required to have a specific purpose for walking around one’s neighborhood at an arbitrarily-designated time is not something that a citizen of this country should be required to do except in the most dramatic circumstances.”

Despite the resolution to the TRO, Ondrejech is still pursuing a lawsuit against the city and speaking with residents negatively impacted by the curfew.

“We want their voices to be heard, really,” Ondrejech said. “And we want the city to redress their grievances. It’s that simple.”

In his motion for a temporary restraining order, Ondrejech argued the curfew is not narrow enough and doesn’t advance a compelling government interest.

“It is a fact that there has been no widespread civil unrest in the city of Cleveland Central Business District since about daylight on Sunday,” the motion reads. “Further, it is a fact that there has been no unrest in what the Proclamation describes as the W. 25th Market District.”

According to Jackson, the initial decision to institute a curfew was made to prevent further property damage or attacks on police officers, which he and Police Chief Calvin Williams said would have spread to other parts of the city.

“We would reinstitute the curfew if we had bona fide intelligence that something is going to happen or if something does happen here in the next 24 hours or so,” Williams said Thursday. “I think the mayor is ready to reinstitute that curfew Downtown so that we go back to the same posture that we’ve had the past three or four days. It’s evident that it’s worked.”

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