Pastors Question Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson in Forum on Police Use of Force

Pastors pray over Mayor Frank Jackson and Police Chief Calvin Williams.
Pastors pray over Mayor Frank Jackson and Police Chief Calvin Williams.
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Rev. Jawanza Colvin pressed Chief Calvin Williams and Mayor Frank Jackson to explain how they'd reform a division of police that has come under two federal investigations in 10 years.

Before the largely black audience, Colvin mentioned the names of several African Americans who had been killed by police during that time -- including Tamir Rice.

Chief Williams said he doesn't think fault lies with Rice or with the officer who shot him. That drew criticism from another panelist, Rev. William Myers.

"There was a whole lot of wrong there, and I cannot allow the policeman to skate," Myers said. "That was too quick."

Rev. R. A. Vernon asked Mayor Jackson if he would fire anyone over the shooting - the mayor didn't answer yes or no, but alluded to a future internal review that could lead to discipline for officers.

Called on to lay out how he'd improve police relationships in the community, Chief Williams pledged to ensure officers aren't so busy they can't get to know the neighborhood.

"It's my job to make sure they have the that time to go to pastor's church on Sunday," Williams said. "Not just to meet the people in that church, but to meet the kids in our rec centers, in our schools, in our community centers. And I'm committed to doing that."

After some challenging questions and tense moments, the pastors struck a conciliatory note by the end of the program, wishing the mayor and chief well, and leading the congregants to pray for them.

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