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“Locals Very Anxious About The Bad Vibes”: Republican Insiders Are Dreading Their Own Convention

Cleveland is one of those cities that has invested a whole lot in rehabilitating a once-dismal image, with some success. Now it’s probably better known as a vibrant music center (home of a fine symphony orchestra and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) than as another decaying Rust Belt graveyard full of industrial ghosts. There’s a major NASA facility there. Cleveland has its share of foodies and hipsters. The sports scene once probably best defined by the Ten Cent Beer Night riot that canceled an Indians’ game in 1974 now has produced an NBA championship.

But as is the case in a lot of cities fighting a bad rep, there’s a certain strained boosterism to Cleveland’s self-promotion, perhaps best characterized by the frenetic “Cleveland Rocks!” assertions that festooned comedian Drew Carey’s long-running ABC sitcom. So you have to figure the locals are very anxious about the bad vibes surrounding next week’s Republican National Convention. Will the event be remembered as another (to borrow the term of derision once commonly applied to the huge, frigid Cleveland Stadium until its demolition in 1996) Mistake by the Lake?

Of course, the widespread “dread” of the convention among GOP insiders that Politico‘s Alex Isenstadt wrote about today has less to do with the convention’s locale than with the Trump nomination it will formalize. An unprecedented number of elected officials are finding somewhere else to be next week. Political operatives who would normally no more miss a convention than a child would forget her or his own birthday are planning hit-and-run visits to conduct essential business only. Several big corporations are canceling what would normally be routine sponsorships (Isenstadt reports ominously that some local caterers are laying off staff because of the reduced number of corporate events).

There will not be a shortage, however, of media observers, many of whom are coming to Cleveland in hopes of seeing some sort of garish and horrific spectacle, whether it’s a fight over the convention rules, violence in the streets, or just an exceptionally cheesy Trump-driven agenda of C-class celebrities and washed-up athletes.

Totally aside from the hostility to Trump many Republican Establishment types feel, there’s a sense this convention could rank down there with Barry Goldwater’s Cow Palace convention in 1964 as the kickoff to a general-election fiasco.

But perhaps an even greater source of “dread” is the potential contrast between chaos outside the convention arena and tedium inside.

At a time when the nation is reeling from a series of mass shootings, there is widespread concern about safety in Cleveland. Increasing the worry is the nature of Trump’s campaign events, which have at times resulted in racially charged violence between his supporters and critics. The convention is expected to draw scores of protesters, ranging from Black Lives Matter to white-supremacist groups.

Thanks to Ohio’s robust “concealed carry” law, Cleveland police are being reduced to begging protesters not to bring along their shooting irons. Fortunately, the more respectable Trump supporters are ahead of the curve:

Tim Selaty, director of operations at Citizens for Trump, said his group was paying for private security to bolster the police presence. While Mr. Selaty said people should be allowed to carry guns, his group is banning long weapons from a rally in a park it is hosting on Monday.

“We’re going to insist that they leave any long arms out for sure because we believe that will make sure our people are safer,” he said. “In other words, no AR-15s, no shotguns or sniper rifles — all of the things that you would think somebody would bring in to hurt a lot of people in a very short time.”

Gee, that’s a relief: at least some people in the protest zone will have nothing more troublesome at hand than their hand cannons.

In a terrible affront to both the Second Amendment and the constitutional doctrine of federalism, the Obama Secret Service has banned firearms inside the convention perimeter itself. But the biggest worry Republicans have about what goes on inside Quicken Loans Arena involves Team Trump’s apparent disorganization in planning the convention. Six days out, and more than a week after Trump himself boasted the speaking schedule was full-to-overflowing, there’s still no convention schedule available. A relative handful of isolated announcements have been made about this or that elected official agreeing to speak at the convention, in a sharp departure from the usual assumption that all of them would be there and most of them above the rank of dogcatcher would be offered three minutes during a sleepy afternoon session. We’re all beginning to wonder if there will be a schedule in place when the convention officially opens on Monday.

All in all, it’s not looking good for Republicans or for Cleveland. If the convention is a mess or if violence erupts outside it, you can be sure that media types will reach for long-buried symbols of Cleveland disasters like the occasions in the 1960s and 1970s when the heavily polluted Cuyahoga River caught on fire. Thanks to a generation of environmental efforts nationally and locally, that doesn’t happen anymore. But it could be an apt metaphor if RNC ’16 goes up in flames.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, July 12, 2016

July 14, 2016 Posted by | Cleveland OH, Donald Trump, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“If Our Grief Were Colorblind”: A Willful Disconnect, In Cleveland And Across The Country

Hundreds showed up Wednesday morning for the funeral of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

Tamir was black, and all but a handful of his mourners in the pews were black, too. A group of white people was in the balcony, armed with cameras and media credentials.

I point out the lack of white mourners at Tamir’s funeral because it illustrates a willful disconnect, here in Cleveland and across the country. We white people, even the good-hearted liberals among us, tend to view shooting deaths of black children as a black problem. We don’t say that. Most of us don’t even think it. But how else to explain why virtually none of us thinks we should show up at such a child’s funeral? How better to telegraph that we, too, have suffered a loss than to disrupt our day and walk through the door of that church?

I do not mean to suggest I was one of those few “good” white people. I sat with my reporter’s notepad throughout Tamir’s service. Halfway through, I left the balcony to sit among the mourners, but only because I was feeling so uncomfortable with the voluntary segregation.

By now, if you are even a casual consumer of news, you’ve heard about Tamir Rice. You may not know his name — I’ve already discovered that too many times in recent days right here in Cleveland — but you probably know how he died. On Nov. 22, Tamir was playing alone in a Cleveland city park with an air pellet gun missing the telltale orange tip identifying it as a toy. A 911 caller told the dispatcher that Tamir was waving a gun but stressed that it was probably a toy. This detail was not conveyed to the two policemen, both of them white, who answered the call.

The police car zoomed up only feet away from Tamir, and within two seconds, maybe three seconds at most, the child had fallen to the ground after rookie cop Timothy Loehmann leapt out and shot him twice.

We know these details not because of the original police account, which cast Tamir as a young man waving a gun into a frightened crowd and ignoring three warnings from police to drop his weapon. We know what happened because of a grainy video later released by police, which captured the last few viable minutes of Tamir’s life. It is a silent, haunting depiction of an innocent boy who had no idea his life was almost over.

Tamir’s death and too much of the local coverage since have sparked outrage here and across the country. A low point for the Northeast Ohio Media Group was to post online a story not of this young boy’s short life but of his parents’ past criminal records. As if their misdeeds led to — what exactly, their son’s being alone at that park? Their son’s playing with a toy gun? Their son’s inevitable death?

This is what happens when you prize clicks over context and you sideline veteran Guild journalists who’ve been covering Cleveland’s neighborhoods for decades. To his everlasting credit, the editor in charge of visuals at The Plain Dealer, NEOMG’s partner, insisted publicly that he would do everything in his power to keep the story out of the print edition. In a small victory for journalism, he prevailed.

Initially, Loehmann was depicted as a young cop who, according to an interview with his father, had left a suburban police force for Cleveland’s because he wanted more action.

On the day of Tamir’s funeral, that suburban police department, in Independence, Ohio, released Loehmann’s personnel file, revealing a far more troubling story behind his December 2012 departure.

From Deputy Chief Jim Polak’s Nov. 29, 2012, letter in Loehmann’s personnel file:

“It appears from the pattern developing within our short time frame with Ptl. Loehmann that he often feels that when told to do something, that those instructions are optional, and that he can manipulate them if he so feels it can better serve him. I do not say he is doing this for some benefit, or in an insubordinate way, but he just appears to have the mind set that if he thinks he knows better, (then) that is the course he follows.

“Due to his dangerous loss of composure during live range training and his inability to manage this personal stress, I do not believe Ptl. Loehmann shows the maturity needed to work in our employment.

“Unfortunately in law enforcement there are times when instructions need (to) be followed to the letter, and I am under the impression Ptl. Loehmann, under certain circumstances, will not react in the way instructed. …

“…I am recommending he be released from the employment of the City of Independence. I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies.”

On Wednesday, hundreds of mourners prayed for a boy who should not have died at the hands of a man who apparently should never have been a Cleveland cop.

“This is not a problem of black and white,” Tamir’s uncle Michael Petty said in his eulogy, “but of right and wrong.”

May we prove him right.

 

By: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist; The National Memo, December 4, 2014

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Cleveland OH, Police Shootings, Tamir Rice | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Culture Where Avoidable Force Becomes Inevitable”: Justice Department; Cleveland Police Use ‘Unnecessary’ Force

Cleveland police have routinely engaged in “unreasonable and unnecessary” force, including a half-hour police chase involving 100 officers that left two unarmed African-Americans dead when police mistook the car backfiring for gunshots and shot each of them more than 20 times, a Justice Department investigation revealed Thursday.

The probe, part of an ongoing series of “pattern or practice” investigations into the nation’s police departments, also found that Cleveland police often needlessly shot residents, struck them with head blows and subjected them to Taser weapons and chemical spray.

Taken together, the incidents in Ohio’s second-largest city, the Justice Department concluded, have led to a situation where “avoidable force becomes inevitable.”

Attorney General Eric Holder, in announcing the Cleveland findings a day after he opened a separate investigation into the chokehold death of an unarmed black man in New York, recommitted his office to the Obama administration’s Building Community Trust initiative.

The effort is designed to “foster strong, collaborative relationships between local police and communities they protect and serve,” the attorney general said.

In Cleveland, Holder said, the issues of police and community relationships are “complex and the problems longstanding.” But, he said, “we have seen in city after city where we have engaged that meaningful change is possible.”

Faced with the federal probe’s findings, Cleveland police and city officials have signed a statement of principles committing them to mending police-community relations. Holder said the plan will lead to a consent decree that would be “court-enforceable,” with an independent monitor to oversee improvements and ensure that reforms are made.

Similar agreements have been reached after Justice Department investigations into police departments in other communities in states including California, Arizona, New Mexico and Louisiana.

The Cleveland probe was opened after a local newspaper, the Plain Dealer, revealed in May 2011 that six officers accused of brutality had used force on 29 suspects during a two-year period.

 

By: Richard A. Serrano, The Los Angeles Times; The National Memo, December 4, 2014

December 5, 2014 Posted by | African Americans, Cleveland OH, Police Officers | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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