As a group of peaceful protestors stood in front of the Cleveland Justice Center awaiting the verdict of Cleveland Police Officer, Michael Brelo “Black Lives Matter” was the common phrase. The officer was responsible for firing 47 shots at victims Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell from the hood of their car after a 22-mile chase.
Pat D’Angelo, Brelo’s attorney, was aggressively approached by a crowd of people which lead to a brief stand off with the Cleveland Sheriff’s department dressed in riot gear. A family member of Williams sobbed as she repeatedly yelled out, “why?”
Protestors didn’t turn to violence though, but tears were flowing from almost every eye. Kyle Earley, a local minister and a member at Mount Sinai Baptist Church, sat in the middle of the street as tears flowed down his face.
“We ask the question on how do you justify 137 shots,” Early sadly uttered. “We had hope this case would win in our favor.”
People voiced their concerns and their emotions continuously about the city and its justice system. Jeff Johnson, a Cleveland Councilman felt the pain of the Black community he was raised in.
“I feel angry because I thought there was enough evidence there to show the officer shot the kill shots,” Councilman Johnson said. “We encourage the community to hit the streets, we encourage them to reflect their anger, but we remind them on what happened in Baltimore. Burning our community means we lose our investment, it hurts us and we don’t need anyone hurt from this process.”
The officer is still on administrative leave pending an internal investigation by the Cleveland Police Department. This is an early stage of a long process as the community awaits any news on the officer that shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Community leader, Norman Edwards remains hopeful on a positive out come against the city’s elected officials.
“We have to get our elected officials out of office and move forward,” Edwards said. “We aren’t asking for anyone to riot and to burn the city down, we don’t want that at all. We want the elected officials to be held accountable because they have failed the entire city of Cleveland.”
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