November 14, 2022

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Public Commenters (23 min)
Robert Render   Pamela M. Pinkney Butts  Willow Watson   Keshawn Walker   Shandra Benito  Alana Garrett-Ferguson   Rev. Douglas Horner   Kareem Henton 

Robert Render

Blaine Griffin: The first person that we'll bring up to, uh, Public Comment will be Bob Render.

He's from Ward 6. The topic that he would like to discuss is The Community Police Commission.

He is not representing anyone. And he is also not being paid by anyone. Mr. Render.

Robert Render: Thank you. Good evening, Council President Blaine Griffin and members of Cleveland City Council.

Thank you for the opportunity to make a few public comments, on the process and the vetting of the ten nominees; submitted by Mayor Justin Bibb, to city council for consideration and approval, as members of the newly created Cleveland Police Commission.

Which was overwhelmingly approved, by the residents of the city Cleveland, on Issue 24.

I'm reminded of former President William Jefferson Clinton; who often said: Let not the perfect become the enemy of the good.

Nothing made by human hands could qualify as perfect, nor has this process been perfect in any way, as well.

But it has been an extremely good one, which has been unparalleled by most standards in Cleveland's history.

Anyone who wanted to know anything about the individuals, who initially vetted the two hundred plus applicants-- including myself--could do so.

Anyone who wanted to observe and listen in on the interviews, on the finalists by the five-member committee, could do so.

Anyone who wanted to write the Chief Ethics Officer Delante Spencer Thomas or Mayor Justin Bibb, about the finalists could do so.

When I think about the process, in which Mayor Bibb selected and nominated the likes of Jan Ridgeway, I'm reminded of the Book of Esther: Chapter 4, verse 14--in which the Lord says that: He has prepared her for a time such as this.

There are times in which God will ask you to do difficult things in our lives. And this is one of them, which each of the thirteen candidates will undertake.

Janice Ridgeway exemplifies the extremely high quality character and caliber of individuals that Mayor Bibb, and the city council has submitted to serve on the CPC.

They may not be perfect, but these are good people; who are ready, willing and able to serve the residents of the city of Cleveland, during a very difficult time.

In place in Cleveland's history. Again, let not the perfect be the enemy of the good.

2:24 Permalink

Pamela M. Pinkney Butts

Blaine Griffin: Next we have Reverend Pamela M. Pinkney Butts. She's from Cleveland. She's here to talk about community funding and education.

She is representing The People's Party and Pinkney Butts USA. And she is being paid by the people. Reverend Pinkney Butts.

Reverend Pamela M. Pinkney Butts: [sings] We need a song, that disrupts the atmosphere. We need a song, that God will hear. We need a song, that produces kings and queens. We need a song, that all nations will come together and sing: Lord you are holy [end of song].

That's what communities represent.

The word of God says that: The race is not given to the swift; the battle to the strong; bread to the wise; wisdom to men, women, boys and girls of understanding. Nor knowledge to those who believe that they know everything. But time and chance happens to us all.

The race that I want to talk about this evening, is the giant called racism. And with this one smooth stone that I have today, I come to bring that giant down.

The racism in the community funding, is the element that takes place that when people of color--that are non-white or non-seleucid-- become in leadership and the funding gets removed from the community.

There is no funding for the potholes. There is no funding for the pistols. There is no funding for the people.

Even such a situation as this, our public transportation, the President of the Board of Trustees--Mr. George Dixon-- was murdered. He didn't break a law. They removed the funding, because they did not want to pay his medical bills.

And he announced in the board meeting, that he was doing an investigation of discrimination inside of our public transportation and coming from it.

So the funding was removed. The educational portion of this is, see, when the funding gets allocated in the wrong way--we have guns, sugar, alcohol, tobacco in our community.

And our children are expected to go to school, when their brains will not function on poor eating.

Their brains will not function on weapons of warfare in our communities. Their brains will not function and their behavior will be in a defensive mode, at all times.

So we need a song, as Jehoshaphat had, to line up for the battle; to let this racist agenda know that we are going to win this battle.

You will not have our children. You will not have our communities. You will not have our churches. You will not have our people.

I plead the blood of Jesus, right now, over the city of Cleveland--the United States of America. God bless you.

3:21 Permalink

Willow Watson

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Willow Watson, from North Collinwood. [They are] here to talk about, uh, participatory budgeting.

Not representing anyone. And not being paid by anyone. Willow you have the floor. Is Willow here? Here is Willow. Thank you. Please acknowledge your time.

Willow Watson: Hello, my name is Willow. I'm a Cleveland native. Graduate of Lincoln West High School, in 2013.

And first-gen graduate of The College of Wooster, in 2017. Um, since graduating, I've lived a few places--including Pittsburgh and I recently returned to Cleveland in 2021.

Shortly after returning, I learned of the Participatory Budgeting Coalition. I had no idea, like what those words meant together, but I saw they were community involved and decided to check them out.

Um, and I think that participatory budgeting is a way to solve a lot of the generational issues I see within my community; including resident disenfranchisement and disinvestment from our communities.

Um, where people do not feel like they have the agency or ability to affect their life circumstance around them.

Participatory budgeting is not a fix all or a save all; but it is, um, it has the potential to ignite people to begin to feel or see the agency of their voice; and their ability to create direct change and influence within their community.

Um, and so along with that, it also has the opportunity to like build, um, pathways into other forms of democratic engagement.

As has been stated here before, the system that we have currently inherited is one that guarantees that it does not allow full participation of all peoples.

Especially those who are historically marginalized, by those current systems and practices.

But with participatory budgeting, we have the opportunity to segue to build an intervention; or a new legacy for those who come after us--in the generations to pursue democracy, in a new way.

And I would love to see council also invest in that initiative, come January. Thank you.

2:24 Permalink

Keshawn Walker

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Keshawn Walker. They are from Ward 4. They are here to talk about participatory budgeting.

Not representing anyone and not being paid by anyone. Keshawn, you have the floor.

Keshawn Walker: Right on. Alright, well I'm here--talking about participatory budget.

And uh, my thing to y'all is a question in following Willow.

The whole stand of democracy. I believe that we're, more so, operating in a anocracy.

Which is just a--you know, a thing as where as a representatives; you know, got the more so of a say over the people who are the individuals who are living in these places.

So a democracy, and more so, we put in people in the initiatives of where they got more so of a say.

More like, a you know, a participatory democracy. You know what I mean? You know Brazil practices, but I ain't saying we Brazil.

But I'm saying is that you know, having people be initiating in a process, you know what I mean?

People are not totally dumb. They don't need people just to hop out into an office and think for 'em. You know what I mean?

So in a sense, you know uh, New York in 2011, 2012 they figured it out. You know, Grand Rapids, Michigan--recently they figured it out and they divvied it up by the wards.

And so, you know, I know giving people a little bit of power to say what they want to do with some money and you feel like they're not so, more so, educated is a scary thing.

And that's cool. I understand that. I understand y'alls position on that.

But you know, we got some individuals who do support it.

We got some individuals who don't. Who congregate this area and you know, and I hear some talk about interest rates.

But then, I hear an individual-- earlier at the terminal--I'll say it like that, because I can't say no names.

And he had mentioned that, you know, he would want to see people be more in tune in what's going on in the community. And this individual also said that people talk with their feet.

And I'm sure, if he's here? I can't tell. But, he knows what I'm saying.

He knows who he is and so we could adjust that problem of people leaving the city, you know what I mean?

People leave Cleveland. People have been leaving Cleveland.

Man, you know what I mean? And I love this city. I'm not going nowhere, but I understand why these folks are leaving.

And so this right here, man, you know a allows folks to be initiated and what's going on; putting some money in their hands.

Not even not even in their hands, because that's not what you know this is.

But having, you know a little bit more control over the stipulations, that you know what I mean, are stipulating their areas.

Then I mean, we'll begin to see people have some more pride.

So I'm challenging y'alls Cleveland pride. And I'm challenging democracy tonight.

You know what I mean? So, I'm asking y'all to have a little Cleveland pride.

Let Cleveland decide and then you know, I mean the rest of you know the cards are gonna fall where they may.

It ain't no solvent. You know what I mean? It's not no, you know, super solution. It's not gone, you know I mean? You know, make everything alright.

But it is going to give people, you know, a more so of a initiation into understanding. And being, you know, proud of where they live at. You know what I mean?

And also understanding the political infrastructure, because a lot of our politics is just wiped to the side.

And we don't know what's going on. We don't know who's corrupt until the article comes out. We don't know any of these things, you know what I mean?

So that's, more so, my education and what I do as far as educating the people over where I'm at.

And just allow that thing to happen in January, please. Right on. Thank you.

3:18 Permalink

Shandra Benito

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Shandra Benito from Ward 13. They're here to support for CPC nominee confirmation. And they are not representing anyone and they are not being paid. Shandra Benito.

Shandra Benito: I'm a little short. Okay. Hi, good evening. My name is Shandra Benito. I'm very proud to be a member of Ward 13 and to have Chris Harsh as my council member.

I'm here, because I am one of the three nominees that was put forward by the council for the CPC.

And, I'm just here to voice my support for bringing the rest of the Mayor's Appointments.

As you know, there are ten CPC nominees that are coming from the Mayor's Office.

And then I'm one of the three from the council. And as a nominee, I've had the opportunity to get to know some of the folks on the mayor's side.

And I have to say, I've been so incredibly impressed.

We've gotten together a couple times and I'm just--people that the mayor has chosen are so thoughtful, come from such a range of experiences.

From community leaders to non-profit leaders. And people who I really think, along with the three people that the city council has chosen, I think will do some incredible work.

To kind of help heal the relationships between law enforcement and our community. And to help make everybody safer.

I've been so honored to have been selected by city council to be one of the three people.

I was so impressed: By the process that the city council did; by the questions that were asked; by the way we were asked the different ways that we represent the community; by the ways that council so clearly tried to make sure that the right people were coming together to serve.

And so, I just would really love to see us move this process forward--so that the other ten nominees can go through the same careful and thoughtful process that council did with us.

Because, I know that we're really ready to get to work. We're ready to serve the city of Cleveland.

We're ready to do the things that not only the citizens of Cleveland have set out to do; but also the things that the city council has asked us to do.

And the Mayor's Office has asked us to do so. We're ready.

We're excited. I have a lot of faith in the thirteen people that have been nomineed.

Nominated. Sorry. That have been nominated. And I just really hope that we can move this process forward, so that we can get to work all together.

So thank you, very much.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you, Miss Benito.

2:38 Permalink

Alana Garrett-Ferguson

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Alana Garrett-Ferguson and Alana is from Hough.

And they are here to talk about The Cleveland Police Commission. Not representing anyone and not being paid by anyone. Miss Alana Garrett.

Alana Garrett-Ferguson: Good evening, everyone. My name is Alana. My name is Alana Garrett-Ferguson.

I am here to pledge my support as one of the nominees for not only myself; but the other twelve of us--who have been nominated by either the mayor or city council.

Um, the process in which we all have had to undergo at this point; it was very rigorous.

It was very careful in looking at all of our backgrounds. And also in reviewing all of our applications.

And so tonight, um, I am here to just urge and really hope that we are able to move forward with the Mayor's Appointment Committee scheduling that hearing.

Because the longer in which we are taking time to belabor this, we are allowing the residents of Cleveland the opportunity to, unfortunately, not have faith in democracy.

And not have faith in us, because this is something that the citizens of Cleveland did vote for.

And this is very important, that we must do.

And we also have to make sure that we are actually holding police accountable and reimagining public safety.

And so, I'm just here to really urge that we are able to move forward, in the process.

Because we have to make sure that everyone, also our elected officials, have integrity.

And they are also able to really uphold the faith of the people. Because it's only fair for those and the voters who voted for this. Thank you.

1:46 Permalink

Rev. Douglas Horner

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Douglas Horner. And Reverend Douglas Horner is from Detroit Shoreway.

He wants to talk about The Community Police Commission. He is not representing anyone and he is not being paid by anyone. Reverend Horner.

Reverend Douglas Horner: Thank you, for having us here tonight. I really love the fact that we now have Public Comment.

Because I remember it wasn't that long ago, that we were wondering how to come before this a gust body of folks that we've elected to do the business.

And now we get to see it in action, whenever we want.

Um, the citizens--those gathered here, but also millions of others-- have brought democracy to a new place, right now, in our country, right?

Yes, it's quite amazing how the big red wave didn't happen; but the fighting continues.

And protests still is a part of democracy. And I think--we're here tonight because the democratic process needs to move forward.

And the only way to do that is for you all to go to the police commission. Um, allow the police commission to move forward in the next part of the process. And bring it to the vote.

And let's continue the process, so that the people that have been brought on as the commissioners--some of whom have spoken already-- can start to do their business.

And if people don't like what they're doing, then a legislative process can happen; that will tweak it, as it moves forward.

But as it is right now, it's kind of stuck. So, um, God bless you all. Let's keep this, um, progressive movement continuing.

I know that the CPD patrol people and commanders that I know, are ready to see how this all plays out. Because they want to get to work. So, thank you.

2:14 Permalink

Kareem Henton

Blaine Griffin: Next, we have Kareem Henton. Kareem Henton is from Cleveland. He's here to talk about the Police Commission Appointments.

He represents Citizens For A Safer Cleveland. And he is not being compensated by anyone. Mr. Henton.

Kareem Henton: Good evening, everyone. Uh firstly, I want to say thank you, very much.

Firstly, I want to say that I have no objections, with the people that have been selected. Just want to go on the record, to say that.

I say that, as a person who is one of the people that pulled the petitions for this to be for Issue 24--that became Charter Amendment 115.

I say this as a resident of Ward 14. I say this as a person that was a part of creating the words that you read within that charter of legislation.

So when I say that to you--I say that with all honesty--that I have no objection, about the people who are selected.

But what we do have an objection to--and it's not just four of us--but even if it was just four; it's the four that were four of the primary people that help construct this.

The objections that we've had are based on the fact that not who you have--but who you don't have.

You don't have that attorney, with experience in dealing with police misconduct.

That's right. Isn't that what this was all about? Part of it?

You don't have that member of a family, that has lost a loved one to police violence. Isn't that part of why we created this?

And then we don't have, or rather let me change that, we do have someone that fits the age demographic of representing the youth.

But the problem is that they're only going to be 30, for less than a year. So then, who's going to replace them, after their two-year term is up?

So, I'm going to just say this in regards to some of the legal loopholes and the legal wrangling that's behind, uh, going against what people actually wanted.

And it's this right here. Imagine going to a car dealership, asking for a Toyota 4Runner--because you want to get through the winter.

And then, that's on the contract. They give you a Toyota 4Runner.

But that 4Runner is only two-wheel drive. Is that expected to get you through the winter?

But they know what was implied. They know what was in good faith, when we said we needed these people.

And so what I'm asking city council to do, in regards to your selections, is that we feel those necessary spaces.

Because we're counting on you, to make this right. In the spirit of what we push.

What the people that signed these petitions, that voted for this, what we asked for.

So, we've had numerous dialogues with the Mayor's Administration.

Exchanges via text mail; email, so forth; Zoom meetings. So it's understood what we asked for. What we wanted. But, it just wasn't honored.

So we asked city council to please fill in that void. Thank you.

Blaine Griffin: Thank you.

3:24 Permalink