NAACP, For One, Not on Board with "Wrong-Headed" Parade Legislation

click to enlarge NAACP, For One, Not on Board with "Wrong-Headed" Parade Legislation
Sam Allard / Scene
The Cleveland Chapter of the NAACP has issued a press release expressing outrage and dismay at Cleveland City Council's parade legislation, passed Wednesday as an emergency measure (Final vote: 12-4-1). 

The release calls the ordinance a "wrong-headed and constitutionally questionable reaction to citizen activism," and says that it amounts to prior restraint of every American's first amendment rights. 

"Without the benefit of public hearings, members of Cleveland City Council under the leadership of Kevin Kelley ... have decided that demonstrators pose a threat to the well-concocted image of Cleveland being a place where people don’t care about abuses of civil rights," the release stated.

NAACP officials say they will look closely at the ordinance to see if it warrants a court challenge, but Michael Nelson, who co-chairs the Cleveland chapter's criminal justice committee, told Scene that legal action would first have to be sanctioned by the national office. 

"What we've done is put everybody on alert," Nelson said, "that this is such an arrogant disregard for the constitution. To me it boggles the mind that a city council with such a significant African-American presence, would begin to even consider such a restrictive piece of legislation." 

Nelson said it "almost" reminded him of Chicago and the Democratic National Convention of 1968, wherein crooked Mayor Richard Daly felt the same way about his city and the national spotlight that many local leaders feel about Cleveland with the RNC on the horizon — have a look at the insensate construction boom! The '68 convention is of course remembered notoriously for the rioting that broke out and the unchecked violence of the Chicago PD

Nelson told Scene that city council's first order of business is its constituents, the people of the city, and he doubted a single constituent came to individual councilpeople with urgent requests for this legislation. (Writer's note: Though Mr. Nelson referenced Matt Zone and Terrell Pruitt by name, we suspect he hasn't visited West Park recently).

Councilmen Zack Reed, Jeff Johnson, TJ Dow and Brian Cummins all voted no on the legislation. Matt Zone, for his part, expressed concern during committee discussion about the ordinance passing as an emergency — without council or public input — but voted to approve the legislation Wednesday evening anyway.

"Those committee discussions are nothing more than window dressing," Nelson told Scene, "because they always pass [the legislation] and it's always the same votes."  

About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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