An impassioned crowd staged die-ins (or lie-ins) at the eastern foot of the Detroit-Superior bridge, the intersection of E. 9th and Prospect and beneath the GE chandelier at Playhouse Square during a 2-and-a-half hour march through downtown.
Roughly 100 protesters, (with more young people of color than at prior Cleveland demonstrations) participated.
The City of Cleveland had been planning for road blockages earlier in the day and even urged downtown employees to get out by 3 p.m. if it was possible to do so.
But protesters never stayed in one place for long. The road blockages, which began with the encircling of Public Square and the blockade of the Shoreway on Tuesday, Nov. 25, have always been minor inconveniences, but preeminently symbolic disruptions of "business as usual."
The intentionally improvised route Friday kept the accompanying police officers (and a robust media contingent from the local TV stations) on their toes.
As at previous protests, the object of the outrage was a fluid, multivalent and often non-specific thing. There have been so many recent examples nationwide of cops killing unarmed black people that the string of names couldn't even be chanted in a repeatable loop. Equal rage was spewed against the system which permits police violence.
A representative from Revolution Books said at Public Square that life sentences for police officers killing unarmed people would "change the culture" a lot more effectively (and quickly) than whatever the City of Cleveland and the Department of Justice could cook up.
Local victims Tamir Rice, obviously, but also Tanisha Anderson and Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, were shouted in response to the bullhorn favorite: "Justice for who?"
A 60-year-old woman who said she was from CSU passed out 137 carnations at Public Square to represent the 137 shots fired at the Heritage Middle School parking lot in November, 2012, one of the most hyperbolic excessive uses of force in the total history of American policing.
When the march made its first official stop at the Justice Center, the woman rapped for several minutes on racial injustice. Immediately beforehand, a group of young people danced in a circle, shouting "CPD, what do you say? How many kids have you killed today?" which became a regular chant throughout the march.
There was only minor hostility from downtown bystanders, vocalized exclusively by white males of a certain age (35-55), who articulated the view that protesters ought to get either a job or a life in lieu of protesting, which views were met with all due invective.
After the die-in at the Chandelier, protesters marched down Euclid, arm in arm — darkness had fallen at this point — and a young girl took the bullhorn from somewhere unseen in the throng's warm middle. She led the crowd in a sort of jubilant call-and-response in which many of the afternoon's chants seamlessly intermingled. The volume was at its peak by this point, and the protesters, backlit by the Technicolored bulbs of both Playhouse Square and police cruisers, seemed to have achieved a special rally-cry high. They returned to public square with arms uplifted: Hands up! Don't Shoot!
They formed one more circle at Public Square as rain began to fall, and plans for future demonstrations were announced in the "Mic Check" style familiar to most #Occupy alums kindergarten teachers. A strategy meeting was planned for today, Saturday, at 4 p.m.
Demonstrations are expected to continue, in concert with protests nationwide, all next week.
A NOTE ON PUBLIC TRANSIT: Scene staff writer Eric Sandy made one key observation during the evening's final gathering on Superior and Ontario.
Also worth noting that the die-in at the Detroit-Superior Bridge halted both auto and bus traffic across the significant East-West artery. A small stream of disgruntled RTA riders walked over the bridge, having been stopped on the western side. One black teen was infuriated, on his way to work. Another seemed unfazed, but said he had to walk to catch another bus.
Public Square blockade foreshadowing traffic flow after the redesign here over next few years.— Eric Sandy (@ericsandy) December 5, 2014
"Where are you headed?" I asked him.
"90th and Hough," he said.