October 10, 2022

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Public Commenters (17 min)
Dontez Taylor  Samara Knight   Sean Freeman  Gwen Stembridge  Sarah Hastings  

Dontez Taylor

Blaine Griffin: Dontez Taylor from Ward 4. If we can make sure that Dontez gets assistance. He's here to talk about prayer at council meetings, deaf interpreters, St. Vincent's hospital and he's representing Black on Black Crime and he is not being paid by anyone. Mr Taylor -- and will all Council please turn to acknowledge the speakers.

Hello my name is Dontrez Taylor and I want to know why don't we have prayer in city council like we used to. And I would like to know are y'all supporting St. Vincent Charity to help them stay open and provide whatever we need them to provide for us and I would like and God bless you.

1:04 Permalink

Samara Knight

Griffin: Samara Knight, Ward 4, community services and lack of representation. She is not representing anyone and she is not being paid by anyone. Samara Knight

Thank you. Good evening, mayor, council president and the council and the constituents in the office.

I'm here to address the closure of St. Vincent Hospital established over 100 years ago.

On September the 14th the hospital anounced that they will lay off of over 800 jobs and keep 100 workers. My initial reaction was another hospital closing that provide vital service service to poor people working class and a vast majority of people of color. And 2020 this Council passed legislation declaring racism a public health crisis. Everyone should ask themselves: what is different with this hospital closure? I was here two weeks ago and saw the council acknowledge the Deltas for voter registration which they should have because that's a good thing to do voter education voter awareness is important.

But I also saw a member from St. Vincent Hospital who stood up by the name of Miss Robinson and also stated should she have 56 years of service at that hospital in the community and no one from the council personally acknowledged her or even gave her a thank you I received phone calls from elected officials asking how can they assist. My reply is simple -- demand at the hospital stay open.

Instead of having meetings with the hospital, have meetings with the workers that work there and share their story and hear what they have to say. Why are we so quick to throw in a towel when lives are at risk daily? If the hospital can't remain open and provide inpatient care, then I asked leaders of this council, elect officials that are watching and the constituents in this audience to demand that workers get the dignity and respect they need and make sure that all workers are taken care of and given a severance package for the for the services that they provided.

In the late words of Congressman John Lewis, I will leave you with this: If you want to do something, get in good trouble, necessary trouble and council this is necessary. Thank you.

2:36 Permalink

Sean Freeman

Griffin: He's here to talk about ShotSpotter. He's not representing anyone and he is not being paid by anyone. Mr. Freeman you have the floor, please acknowledge your time.

Thank you. Good evening I would like to first applaud city council today for moving forward with banning conversion therapy for minors here in the city of Cleveland.

We are still working through the basics such as health and safety in this area. We do have a gun problem in this city and we all know that the answer is better jobs better housing and banning assault weapons because there is no need for anyone in this country to have those kinds of weapons. Until we get there, ShotSpotter is not the answer that the city needs for gun violence. Ultimately, it's a technology taking away from police jobs.

It takes away our privacy as citizens and it's calling attention to an open wound, not healing the wounds or helping us recover in the way that we need.

I'm honestly perplexed why police officers want this technology in our in our city, it seems to be taking away from their work. Police officers, as Mayor Bibb has called for, should be on the beat in the areas where violence is occurring in the city and be able to respond as quickly as possible. ShotSpotter is able to help police officers get to areas within a few minutes faster, a few minutes difference from what our police officers are already doing but this technology is looking to take that work away from them in a slippery slope. Additionally it's taking away our privacy. Councilman Harsh brought great attention this last week during the Safety Committee meeting where we as citizens and as the city of Cleveland do not have access to the data that ShotSpotter is taking from our citizens when they utilize this technology. They must record prior to and during the gunshot, but we don't know what they do with the rest of the information.

If it wasn't so concerning and if it wasn't a big problem of the day they were taking in why couldn't they share it with us. Here in the city of Cleveland we are drawn to our hospitals and joined to Cleveland Clinic so analogy about an open wound seems fitting gun violence is an open wound here in Cleveland but ShotSpotter isn't the surgeon to tidying up the wound and healing it it's not the one helping people recover afterwards it's merely pointing to the problem and saying, "This is a problem." Two to three minutes faster, this is not something that the city needs to spend its money on especially from the general fun.

Well I understand the decision has probably already been made if ShotSpotter will be enacted, I implore counsel to utilize the funds from the police budget not the general fund for ShotSpotter in the city it is a police tool and should be used as such into a better option A more efficient option can be used from the general fund. Thank you.

3:13 Permalink

Gwen Stembridge

Griffin: Next we have Gwen Stembridge from Ward 11 to talk about a conversion therapy ban. She represents the Trevor Project and she is being paid by someone.

Good evening, my name is Gwen Stembridge/ My pronouns are she/her and I'm here today testifying as a representative of the Trevor Project the world's largest suicide prevention organization and Crisis Intervention Organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning.

Young people, in the past year in Ohio, our crisis line served over 7,600 contacts which we estimate is only about 12 percent of the 67,400 lgbtq youth in Ohio who seriously considered suicide in the past year.

To further our mission of ending LGBTQ+ youth suicide, the Trevor Project is dedicated to seeing the end of sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts -- also called conversion therapy which is defined as any attempt by a licensed professional to try to change someone's gender identity or expression or their sexual orientation.

We're aligning with every major medical institution and mental health organization in condemning these practices as harmful ineffective unethical, and founded on unscientific theories that have been debunked for decades at this point.

We also oppose conversion therapy because of Trevor's direct experience and extensive research observing the dangers of these practices in our 2022 National survey on LGBTQ+ youth mental health, which reflects responses from more than 30, 000 LGBTQ+ young people between the ages of 13 and 25. Youth who either experienced conversion therapy practices or were threatened with them were more than twice as likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year at rates of about 28 percent versus 11 percent. Our counselors our crisis counselors don't ask about conversion therapy directly when a youth calls us in crisis. But in the last year 1,300 contacts across the U.S explicitly raise the topic themselves these contacts came from almost every state and from more than 600 different cities and towns across the country. They called about dealing with experiences of conversion therapy, facing threats of conversion therapy, worrying about friends and family going to conversion therapy, looking for support to get out of conversion therapy and expressing relief that conversion therapy is illegal where they live.

There's one more piece of research I'd like to share with you medical experts have known for decades that conversion therapy contributes to elevated rates of mental health struggles including, depression anxiety, substance use and suicide attempts earlier this year in 2022. JAMA Pediatrics which is a peer-reviewed journal of the American Medical Association published an article which used health economics to find the annual direct cost of conversion therapy in the United States is $650 million time worse.

Please for the the sake of the youth of Cleveland who we want to grow up in an environment where they are loved and supported for who they are as their authentic selves

I encourage you to support this. Thank you.

3:35 Permalink

Sarah Hastings

Griffin: Sarah Hastings, Berea. She's here to talk about conversion therapy ban and she represents Equality Ohio and she is being paid by someone please acknowledge your time. Once you see the yellow please wrap it up and then the red means that is your time. Thank you. All right thank you for having me today. Again, I'm Sarah Hastings, she/her pronouns representing Equality Ohio.

Thank you for considering protecting our youth against the dangerous practice of so-called conversion therapy in Cleveland. Our proud City stands ready to join Cincinnati, Toledo, Columbus, Dayton, Athens, Lakewood, Kent, Reynoldsburg and Cleveland Heights in this critical step to protect children from the malfeasance disguised as care.

It is important that this body take action because the state legislature has not yet banned the practice throughout the state, even though the legislation has been pending to protect our youth against this harmful practice for several years now. We rely on local bodies like the Cleveland City Council to take action and protect our youth.

Organizations such as the American Counseling Association, American Psychoanalytic Association, American Psychological Association, National Association of School Psychologists, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association and the National Association of Social Workers have all condemned the practice of conversion therapy especially for minors.

The overwhelming medical consensus is that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender is not a pathology or a disease. Same gender sexual orientation and variations in gender identity and expression are part of the normal spectrum of human diversity.

There is no evidence that conversion therapy has any therapeutic benefit. However there is a conclusive body of research that demonstrates negative outcomes that include low self-esteem, substance abuse, depression and suicidal ideation. Critically the victims of this practice are not limited to the youth who endure and must survive it. It is important to acknowledge that many parents who send their children to conversion therapy are trying to do the best thing that they are aware of for their child they too become victims to the fraudulent promise of support by practitioners of this therapy. This measure is prudent in this political climate it is also timely.

I thank the council members for their thoughtful consideration and will leave the final words to Leelah Alcorn. Leelah was a transgender child in Kingsville, Ohio who completed suicide in December of 2014. She scheduled a blog post, her last, to upload automatically after the fact. In it, she expressed that her parents didn't approve of her and employed some of the techniques we're talking about tonight to try and change Leelah's gender.

Her words follow, and I quote: My death needs to mean something, my death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year I want someone to look at that number and say that's blanked up and fix it fix society. Please. End quote. Thank you for taking an important step to help fix society here in Cleveland today. Thank you.

3:44 Permalink