February 27, 2023

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Public Commenters (21 min)
Andre Dailey  Michelle Bell  Leslie Jennings-Maldonado  DeShauna Morgan  Veronica Howard  Keshawn Walker  Richard Rivera  Charles Campbell 

Andre Dailey

I wanted to come down today, there's many reasons I could choose to speak, but Councilwoman Gray went a couple weeks ago to New York, and got her landlords in her ward to come here to Cleveland and to talk to residents, and for me that's a really big thing.

I'm a veteran, I'm young, I'm in college in the city, I'm from here, I'm living in the neighborhood that I'm from, and I had a really bad time with a landlord. I don't know when the last time anybody on this side of the table struggled with housing insecurity, was probably a couple years now, but it can be something difficult to live through. So I really appreciate you holding up the banner for not just your ward, but for the city of Cleveland. Thank you.

0:38 Permalink

Michelle Bell

Good evening, everyone. As stated my name is Michelle Bell. I'm a mother, I'm a grandmother, a retiree, an educator, and a woman of faith. I became a gun violence survivor on February 10, 2019 when my son Andre Brown was shot and killed while sitting in the car with a friend in the Collinwood neighborhood, just one street away from my home. I have many fond memories of his laughter and his kindness, but I'm haunted by that split second senseless act of violence that ended his life and changed my life forever. My new normal is founded in grief and coupled with pain of uncertainty because my son's case remains unsolved.

I am here today because gun violence is putting our community at risk. Gun violence is everywhere, it's in our neighborhoods, it's in the grocery stores, at the movie theater, at the mall and even in our schools. Last year, there were 168 homicides in Cleveland, and as of February 5th, what I read, there were 21 homicides in Cleveland, which is almost double the number of homicides in Cleveland February of 2022. If we continue at that rate, 21 homicides every 36 days there will be over 210 homicides in our city by the end of the year. Far too many, far too many lives to be lost by gun violence. Gun violence is everywhere. It's unwavering, it's taking control of our city. It has become a pandemic, an epidemic, and in short gun violence is a public health crisis.

We must work together. We need community engagement to curtail this crisis of gun violence, and this crisis, this public health crisis. We need community engagement that unites all the organizations and individuals at every level. We need community engagement with a strategy, like Project Ripple, will address this crisis holistically, starting in and with our community, rebuilding trust, rebuilding camaraderie and also bringing back or re-engaging the village. Project Ripple has many components and it has a component to dispel the myth of mental health engagement.

Again, I am here today because the safety of our community is at risk with gun violence. Gun violence is a pandemic, it's an epidemic, and more importantly, it's a crisis. It's a public health crisis that we need to address in that format. Thank you for your time.

2:38 Permalink

Leslie Jennings-Maldonado

I just want to take a moment and ask everybody to breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Now if you felt that, you know that that is mental health right there.

Mental health is needed within this city. Mental health, doing those things that increases serotonin. What does not increase serotonin is concentrated areas of poverty, which produces and continues to produce poor health. What it does not help with is when we are not able to move freely throughout our communities. With that being said, we are trapped in survival mode, and being trapped in survival mode, that promotes violence. When that promotes violence, one of the violences that we have been living with this long is gun violence.

Gun violence is a public health crisis. I repeat, gun violence is a public health crisis. Thoughts are the ancestors of every single action that has been taken place. Brains in pain, they can't learn, and they make trauma-informed decisions. So if everyone is out there making trauma informed decisions, please tell me what does that really stand for our environment? What does that really look like? Can we really afford to keep passing laws that are like putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound? Does it make sense for us to only have the city revenue when the greatest income of the city revenue is the income tax, which basically means any budget or money that we have, that is for the people. So should the money, of that 1.9 billion should some of that money not come back to us? Should that not go towards public health? That is why we are here today. We are here to demand that gun violence is ruled as a public health crisis and we are requesting that some of that budget comes towards the residents and it creates a community design strategy such as Project Ripple, so that way we can put an end to this public health crisis known as gun violence. I encourage everyone to not just stand there but to do something. Thank you.

2:07 Permalink

DeShauna Morgan

Last time where we left off was inflation. Well, infrastructure. Why is infrastructure very important to this economy? With us being American citizens and allowing immigrants to come and reside. We need to educate immigrants on programming, where they can be, as far as coming into the country, and I also believe that should be within educational purposes.

Education. Logistics Code is a Christian-based company where technology is embedded. While we do offer many services, another thing that we're going into is changing and shifting the educational system. This means creating jobs through Logistics Code for those who are non-verbal with IEPs. As a former educator, it has saddened me to say that I have seen many cases where there are special educated children and students, where we should refer them as students, have not been accepted a good nine to five job. We are creating those jobs within Logistics Code, and not only allowing those with special abilities to receive jobs, but as some of the people who have already come up here with special education, with Biblical counseling. Mental health is something very important. Really quick, the GDP, which stands for Gross Domestic Product, that is our annual salary as an economy. If we were to allow budget costs with allies when we receive immigrants with their programming, we can take that money and bring it back overseas so we can have better allies. I agree with Benjamin Carson the Neo surgeon that was able to make his way up to a high authority place. If we were to take tax dollars and allow allies overseas through education to cohesively get into one accord with that American flag, being one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, we can create better jobs and better citizenship. Check us out. Thank you so much.

2:20 Permalink

Veronica Howard

Good evening, everyone. Well, I want to share with you that my birthday is March the 10th, but I want to bring you back to March 10th of 2020. Remember that day. I remember I was hosting a class reunion committee meeting at my home and our class president is the Dr. Sonya Moore, and she called me, she said, 'Veronica, send everyone home. Get with your family because the city is about to close down. So we didn't know what that mean, I just said okay everybody it's my birthday, you know, hang around for a bit. She called me back, she says everybody out of your home, and I said 'Well, no, what's going on?' She said, 'Veronica, get everyone out of your home. The city is about to close down.' The next day we were in the pandemic. We realized that a disease had infected the people.

On December 24th of 2011 my pandemic started. My 25 year old son was murdered here in the city of Cleveland. I've been living living this pandemic for over 12 years now. And what that means is we have protocols so we won't spread Covid 19. We have a vaccine now that protects us from this disease. What are we doing about this gun violence epidemic, this pandemic that's in our backyard? Is it because we've seen all of the people across this country, black, white, all colors go down. Is that it was an immediate expeditious threat that we all took notice? Because every day we are continuing to lose human beings, but it's mostly in the black and brown communities. Is that why? It is not that we must find a vaccine, we must set protocols in place. We must do something to stop this pandemic called gun bodies. Because folks, don't get it wrong, we are living this pandemic, but it is addressed in black and brown communities, so we need to show the urgency that was shown as a nation for a disease that come in and it kills families. My youngest son, he was 17 at the time. He is still suffering from this disease that stole his brother's life. We have mental health counseling in our family. Yeah we do. But just last week I was asked to come and speak about my son, I went into a deep depression. I said, 'I can do this, I can do this' because it needs to be done. We have to find a way. I'm sorry. We have to find a way to stop this pandemic. Thank you very much.

3:16 Permalink

Keshawn Walker

Yeah. Yeah so I just want to say that, you know, an issue being classified as a public health issue, it magnifies public support for that particular issue. And you know as we all know, racism is classified as a public health crisis issue or has been classified as public health issue here, and there's been some things going on behind that. But you know, it's been all kind of stumbles with it, and in my opinion racism is so broad, it's objective, it's not really a way to really put a hand on it to really, you know, do something about it, not directly, But gun violence is specific.

So me and myself, I don't believe that guns in particular are the problem, because if they was the problem is inside though if they was the problem, then guns be out the way and we'll be kniving. And then you know if we took knives off the issue, and then we'd be slingshotting. It'll always be something.

And so this says I don't believe police will ever be a solvent to any municipality's crime issues. They just responders, and so opportunity and proactive action are sufficient and uh very efficient what ways of solving as a solution. Many programs even on a nationwide scale, they reactionary. It's just about reacting you know. No one group from any of these reactionary national programs could put a dent on a violence phenomena. And you know, violence ain't always a physical thing, and you know I got hooked on to the Project Ripple thing about a year ago at this community event called Ghetto Therapy - wherever the camera's at, I'm throwing a wink you know what I'm saying - I'm here because I believe that you guys can see that you know it's young people in the mix that want to get out in front. As young people in the mix that want to get out in front of these issues because y'all can't do all of this and y'all can't be all everywhere. I'm not a polarized young individual, I do have political stances but I'm not a polarized young individual. I believe that all politicians is bad, so I know it's budget time going on, and it's a lot to deal with going on with that, but this here is just as important as anything that's being talked about in any of these equity, you know, committee meetings. I think that this right here is, this as important, because at all or even some point or even maybe - I hate to put any of that bad energy out - but we'll be dealing with trauma or bloodshed. So I just want to say that- I mean just get behind these young people who want to be out in a way because you know we relate to being ourselves. But we don't relate to corporate intervention or statistics because we still we stipulated by statistics and corporate intervention and we don't relate to that. So please, yeah and support you know Project Ripple. Thank you.

3:13 Permalink

Richard Rivera

Good evening, everybody. I live in - Congratulations, Danny. I actually work at Digital C Tech High. Councilwoman Howse, and I met Michelle's group, Together We Rise, on October 24th. Actually, I've met Michelle early on in September, and we did our first Open Night at Digital C, the C is for 'community', by the way, and to hear her voices of how, I felt her pain and losing her son, and what we can do individually, right, to put our talents to curb the violence that's going on, because gun violence is a public crisis, and we know that.

And what's happening now, you know, I was at GCP 21 years and going down Lorain Avenue the last few years seeing kids, six kids, seven kids out on the block on Denison, over on Lorain, on the east side, with nowhere to go. Doors have been closed. They're not even shooting basketball. If you're shooting basketball, you can't shoot safely, hence Cudell, I used to shoot ball there. I live in the city, grew up in the city. Project Ripple, and what Michelle's group, again, I believe that they have something there, is very, injecting love, understanding, caring, back into our community, because I don't think if we didn't care, we wouldn't be here, and if you didn't care you wouldn't be sitting there. So, caring is also part of the digital C commitment. In [inaudible] community, I gave a little talk on Carl Stokes when he was the first black mayor of a major city back in 1968. Cleveland had 800,000 residents. We have 360 and failing. All of us can put our hats together, ideas there, to grow this city, If we were collectively, you know. Where's the opportunities? How we're going to get them to our youth? Most of these internships with these companies are here too, they go to very affluent families. Internships don't even go to CMSD families, we're not even part of the game anymore, you know, and that's where it starts, with our kids, and I care about our kids, and as the months get warmer and warmer and warmer and we don't address this as health crisis being a a public crisis, guess what. You've become numb to a turn to page turn to page turn to page turn to page until you can't feel no more. You know but I feel, you know, and I feel for these women here that have lost their their families. All of us collectively, Cleveland's our family. So I just hope you have some caring, some input into how we can solve this collectively, because it's going to take everybody in this room to put our ideas together and to to just do something with anything, something positive, and in other words be kind at least be kind and listen to one another. Back in the day when we disagreed, we disagreed in the middle. Now if we disagree you're going to crucify me. You know you're listening, I met with some Heartless Felons today, ex-gang members that want change. We're hosting a community job fair for ex-felons that need to be back into, embedded back into our society. Thank you.

3:06 Permalink

Charles Campbell

How you doing today. Gun violence definitely is a public [health crisis] You know I got to be taken care of. I'm a father. I came on both spectrums from being a victim, being an aggressor, so, you know, get behind Project Ripple. That's it.

0:16 Permalink