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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Protesters March Through Cleveland, Call for McGinty's Resignation

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2015 at 10:53 AM

click to enlarge SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
About 100 protesters marched through the streets of Cleveland Tuesday, calling for Prosecutor Timothy McGinty's resignation and Timothy Loehmann's badge.

Though some smaller demonstrations occurred in the immediate aftermath of Monday's announcement that officers Loehmann and Frank Garmback would not be indicted in the shooting death of Tamir Rice, Tuesday's hours-long protest was the first large-scale coordinated response.

Protest leaders, speaking over a megaphone at key downtown intersections where protesters stopped the march and joined hands, implored those gathered to return the next day; and the day after; and indeed on New Year's Eve; to keep coming back, in fact, until McGinty had tendered his resignation. 

The group was a diverse one — white, black, elderly, RevCom, Black Man Army, Stop Mass Incarceration Network, etc. They gathered on the steps of the Justice Center at 3 p.m. We heard from a source inside the Justice Center that the prosecutor's office closed at 2:30 p.m., likely as a precaution due to the protest.

A few speakers lashed out at McGinty and his conduct during the grand jury proceedings. Others lamented the ongoing racism and brutality of the Cleveland Division of Police. Art McKoy, the Black Man Army's omnipresent representative, asked why more people weren't out to support the cause, suggesting Cleveland ought to be embarrassed that New York City was mobilizing more support than the very city in which the Tamir Rice shooting occurred. 

"We don't need thousands," McKoy said. "We need tens of thousands." 

The protesters marched through downtown, chanting the familiar protest chants — "No Justice, No Peace. No Racist Police!" "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now?" — and periodically stopping at intersections. 

Though protesters attempted to enter the Shoreway, as they did after Michael Brelo's acquittal this summer, a blockade of police cruisers and mounted officers would not let them pass. An officer on a megaphone apprised the approaching protesters that if they crossed the line of cars, they would be arrested. 

By 5 p.m., the protesters had marched south on E. 9th street, and stopped at the E. 9th / Carnegie intersection. Police again established a blockade to prevent entrance onto I-71 and I-90, and said that if protesters attempted to enter the freeway, they would be arrested. (Via an organizer, the offense would have been "disturbing the peace.") 

Despite a few minor confrontations with cops — the county Sheriff's Department arrived in riot gear later in the evening, when protesters were outside the Q — the demonstrations were peaceful throughout. At one point, encircled at Ontario and Huron, a lead organizer said that a police officer threatened a protester coming too close to his squad car. 

"Do you want to be next," he is purported to have said. 

See the entire protest in photos here. 

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