With the demonstrations/uprisings in Ferguson and Baltimore serving as recent examples, it was expected that the people of Cleveland would rise up after Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo was acquitted for leading the 2012, 137 shot execution of Timothy Russell and Melissa Williams, two unarmed Black people whose backfiring car was mistaken for gunfire. Grieving and aggravated Cleveland residents did take to the streets to demonstrate, though not in as great a volume as seen in Baltimore. Police Chief Calvin Williams aimed to give protesters their space stating “We allowed people to express their First Amendment rights. We gave people the space and provided a safe environment for them.”
There were some exceptions to the peaceful protests in Cleveland, though. According to CNN:
A protest shut down state Route 2 before police convinced those blocking the highway’s 60-mph traffic to disperse; demonstrators became “disruptive” at the mixed-use Tower City Center, resulting in arrests and businesses closing their doors; a protester threw a restaurant sign at a bystander and other protesters stepped in when police tried to arrest the sign thrower; and protesters pepper-sprayed patrons dining on restaurant patios…
A total of 71 people were arrested for going above and beyond the police’s protest threshold. It is being reported that 39 men and 16 women were arrested along with juveniles and “other adults.” The charges include felonious assault, aggravated rioting, unlawful congregation and failure to disperse. According to Williams, “We only moved in to make arrests when things got violent and people refused to disperse.”
Things have calmed on the Cleveland streets, but there are still uncertain times ahead. The cases of Tamir Rice and Tanisha Anderson have not been resolved. Time will tell what the justice system does and how the people will react.