October 16, 2023

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Public Commenters (29 min)
Kathy McDonald  Dontez Taylor  Stephen Katanovic  Faten Odeh  Abbas Hamideh  Haneen Hamideh  Amina Hamdan  Summer Husein  Omar Kurdi 

Kathy McDonald

Good evening. First and foremost, I am the Hyacinth Community, and been talking about this exact same thing, of finding a way to make parents responsible for their kids' behavior.

We are glad to see that this ordinance is finally moving forward. Some of us have reached out to Municipal Court judges and the Juvenile Court for help on this exact subject. We would like to see some of the juveniles out here doing court community service instead of taking up time in court along with the parent or guardian. This should be countywide and not just in the city of Cleveland. Just not all the juveniles are getting caught in the city. Some are causing havoc in other suburbs, stealing vehicles, robberies and vandalism, just to name a few.

Another concern from a resident is to ask the mayor and commissioner, what are they going to do when we drop below an unsafe staffing number? We don't feel that having officers work 12-hour shifts, that this is the answer to all the crime out here. The officers are already overworked as it is. How is this ordinance going to be enforced? A couple of months before the Hyacinth Community Block Club got into the subject about doing something with the kids and causing trouble, was originally brought up by a resident at the Third District community relations meeting, and she couldn't get any answer that night. So it is about time this is finally being out here to get a green light. Hopefully we will see a change in the behavior of these juveniles [who] keep getting away with all this crime throughout the streets. Thank you.

2:11 Permalink

Dontez Taylor

Okay, my name is Dontez Taylor, and I would like to know what City Council can do to help the kids in our juvenile detention center by putting some active programs in there, so they can learn, and come out of that juvenile detention center with some skills, some talent and everything else while they're in there, and get them to rehabilitate them, and our system.

And what can we do to to get down there to Child and Family Services and make it better for our kids, and get them into good homes and good things that we need to do.

And I would like to see if the City of Cleveland can go out there and find out how we can get all these lead pipes out of our city and put some new pipes in our communities out here today.

1:17 Permalink

Stephen Katanovic

I made my first speech a few months ago. My goal is to become a household name with all members of City Council.

I am wrongly banned at the Erieview Tower. Eight years ago, Galleria security told me that I was banned for life from entering the Galleria Erieview Tower YMCA complex. Once again, eight years ago, Galleria security told me that I was banned for life from entering the Galleria Erieview Tower YMCA complex.

Why was I banned? I was wrongly accused of doing something. Two security guards wrongly accused me of masturbating in the restrooms, something I did not do. Once again, two security guards wrongly accused me of masturbating in the restrooms, something I did not do. I am a victim of rumors and corporate conspiracy. Revitalizing the Erieview Tower. That slogan is well known over here. James Kassouf is the current owner of the Erieview Tower, and I am writing monthly letters to James Kassouf. Once again, eight years ago, two guards told me that I was banned for life from entering the Galleria at Erieview Tower YMCA complex. I was wrongly accused of masturbating in the restrooms.

Remember the Andy Griffith Show? Remember Mayberry? Remember little Opie? If you didn't know, one of Opie's young friends got blacklisted at a local company. That's right. One of Opie's little friends got blacklisted at a local company in Mayberry. The young boy agreed to sell products for a company, then he backed out, then the company blacklisted him on The Andy Griffith Show.

As for me, I am wrongly banned at the Galleria Erieview Tower YMCA complex. I have to make a stand against it. I am 49 years old, I am sober and rarely drink alcohol. My name is Stephen Katanovic. Again, my name is Stephen Katanovic, or in short Stephen K.

2:33 Permalink

Faten Odeh

In the name of God, the most gracious, the most merciful, bismillah hirrahman nirrahim, as-salamu alaykum, may God's peace be upon you. My name is Faten Odeh and I am the Interim Executive Director of the Cleveland and Northern Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. I am here to address the hurtful one-sided statements about the tragedy in the Middle East coming from some of our Cleveland leadership.

To state that Cleveland stands with Israel is not only a gross misuse of your position as a civil servant, but a complete disregard of the tens of thousands of Palestinian- Americans who reside right here in Greater Cleveland. Your constituents in which you bear a responsibility to.

I have come to the conclusion that you must not know what is really happening, because any decent human being with a soul would never make such absolute direct statements of support for such a violent military regime without talking about the human cost exacted by the civilians across the region.

As a Muslim, it's important for me to say from the start that we value all human life, and when innocent people die it is indeed a tragedy. The violence that erupted is not without context. Anyone who has taken a history class knows there's always a cause to an effect. The events of October 7th were a response to the cruel and brutal oppression and illegal occupation that the Palestinians have been enduring for decades from the Israeli apartheid state. This illegal occupation of Palestinian land by Israel affects the lives of innocent human beings every single day. The 2.2 million people of Gaza, many of whose families were ethnically cleansed by Israel, have been living for nearly two decades in an open-air prison, often living without the basic necessities like food, water, and electricity. These unbearable conditions brought forth by the occupying entity, Israel, also affects those living in other areas of Palestine, including Jerusalem and the West Bank.

My father-in-law, a man who lived in Cleveland for much of his life, passed away just a few days ago in Palestine from cancer. On top of dealing with this crippling terminal illness, can you imagine, he had to actually ask for permission from his occupiers simply to travel to where he needed to go in Palestine, the country of his birth, to receive life-saving treatment. As if cancer wasn't difficult enough, he had to deal with such degrading treatment brought to him by the occupation.

Not only are your one-sided statements in support for occupation and oppression of millions of people cruel, but the allocation of our tax dollars also paid by us Palestinian-Americans are being used to purchase millions of dollars of illegal settlements and outpost on stolen Palestinian land in violation of international law. Free Palestine.

3:23 Permalink

Abbas Hamideh

Good evening, members of the City Council, Mayor Bibb and everybody here. You're going to hear similar statements made, as Palestinians of the current situation that's going on right now.

I think it's appalling that a mayor speaks on behalf of the city like he did on Twitter, stating that Cleveland supports the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian people. That is really shameful, especially now as we speak, where there's a carpet bombing of Palestinians currently being conducted right now, and 1.1 million Palestinians who are currently being removed from their homes right now to Southern Gaza. These are people who have been occupied, these are people who have been terrorized for 75 years.

I happen to be a Palestinian refugee originally from the village of Darasin that was massacred on April 9, 1948. One simple search on the internet and you will see the village of Darasin which basically was a fuse to the Nakba, a.k.a. 'Palestinian catastrophe'. It is appalling that a mayor, that a leader of such a great city can state and jump on the bandwagon, like many leaders are doing now around the world just to bandwagon, just to look cool, as if Palestinians didn't have a right to resist, as if only the Ukraine and white people, blonde hair and blue-eyed people, had a right to resist, and not brown or black people. That is very shameful, and words have consequences.

Words have consequences when you dehumanize people, they get persecuted. Right now we are going through a 9/11 scale of people showing their hostility towards Palestinians and Muslims. We had a six-year-old child in Chicago who was killed by his landlord, a 71-year-old white male who killed a 6-year-old Palestinian child and stabbed his mother, from the same rhetoric that these leaders right now are stating or expressing, the so-called solidarity.

I think it's time that leaders around the world, whether they be mayors, presidents, governors, step up and stop the status quo. The only way to end brutality, the only way to end attacks from organizations like Hamas who came into existence forty years after the Israeli occupation, is to end it. End the occupation and find a viable solution. Let's stop scapegoating the Palestinians for an illegal occupation that has been going on for over 75 years. I repeat the conflict did not start two days ago, 75 years ago. Free Palestine.

3:09 Permalink

Haneen Hamideh

Good evening, everyone. I'm here today to speak about a statement released by Mayor Bibb on October 7th. He said, and I quote, 'My prayers are with the people of Israel today as they confront these acts. Terrorism has no place in our society.'

I agree with you, Mr. Bibb, that terrorism has no place in our society, and because we are in agreement, I wanted to address the act of terrorism taking place today regarding the collective punishment against 2 million people in the Gaza Strip. 2 million people, in which half are children. 2 million people who have been held hostage in the largest open-air prison in the world. 2 million people that are being denied food, water, and electricity. 2 million people that are trapped.

Did you know that Israel warned the Palestinian people in Gaza to evacuate to the south because they were going to bomb the north? Did you know that when the Palestinian people listened to the warning and traveled south, the Israeli military decided to bomb them in the south anyway? Did you know that in the span of one week Israel dropped 6,000 bombs on Gaza? Did you know that the Human Rights Watch confirmed that among these bombs was white phosphorus, white phosphorus that is prohibited under Protocol 3 of the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons? Did you know that in the span of one week, 47 entire families have been wiped from the Gaza Civil Registry? Did you know that in the span of one week, Israel has killed 2,670 and counting Palestinian people, and did you know that out of those 2,670 people killed, 724 of them were children? Because we are in agreement that terrorism has no place in our society and you have failed to make a statement, I'm going to assume that you didn't know.

Next I wanted to address the second part of your statement, Mayor Bibb. You said, and I quote, 'Cleveland stands in solidarity with Israel in the face of terror and condemns these acts of evil.' Mayor Bibb, I have to disagree with you here and tell you that Cleveland does not stand in solidarity with Israel. This past Friday, over 500 people marched to this City Hall to protest against the war crimes Israel has committed this past week and for the past 75 years in Palestine. Cleveland does not support the displacement of over 700,000 Palestinians in 1948 and over 300,000 more Palestinian people in 1967. Cleveland does not support the illegal expansion of Israeli settlement over Palestinian villages today like in Sheikh Jarrah and Jenin. Cleveland does not support the $3.8-billion that Biden agreed to and the $8-billion approved just this week, and Cleveland does not support the illegal siege on two million Palestinians in Gaza today. Cleveland knows better than to support the ethnic cleansing and genocide of an entire group of people indigenous to their land. Thank you.

3:03 Permalink

Amina Hamdan

I wanted to start off by expressing my gratitude for this platform, as my Palestinian brothers and sisters overseas have been silenced and unable to represent themselves. They are currently drowning in false representations spread by Western media, including a statement given by you, Mr. Bibb. On October 7th, you posted a tweet in solidarity with Israel, labeled a marginalized group as terrorists, and condemn them for their acts of terror. When I read this message, my body was consumed with disappointment, but I realized you cannot be angry with someone who does not understand what is going on. I came here today to help you paint a picture.

Imagine you are a doctor working in a hospital aiding wounded civilians. Consumed with work, you forget to check in on your family but you go on about your day healing the sick and injured and discovered your family has come to visit you. However, they are not in the same condition you left them that same morning when you hugged them goodbye before work. You find your wife unconscious in a hospital bed, and before you can comprehend her condition, you are dragged into a room with long rows of evenly-spaced body bags. You are guided to a bag at the end of the row, and as they open it, you recognize the child inside. It's your four-year-old son. So what happened? While you were gone helping others, your family's home that you have spent your entire life taking care of was demolished in a matter of seconds by occupational forces. Your wife is the sole survivor of the building collapse. This image is not of fiction, it is an everyday experience in fear for millions of Palestinians trapped in a 25- by 7-mile prison. So what do you do? You run to the bathroom to wash your face, to brace yourself for the anguish. You go to charge your phone to check in on the rest of your family. You take a few days off work, mourn the loss of your son, you prepare to ensure that your wife receives the best medical care possible. You make mental plans for your son's funeral, but wait- you're getting ahead of yourself. Did you forget? You can't go wash your face because you don't have water. You can't charge your phone because you don't have electricity. You can't call your family members because you don't have internet access, and they're all dead anyway. You can't take a few days off of work, and you no longer have a home. You can't provide your wife with proper medical care because your captors have yet again denied the import of medical services, and the hospital you work at is running low on supplies. You can't host a funeral because there's no one to attend, and you can't bury your son because the cemeteries are up to capacity. So what do you do? Go back to work. Your wife may recover but she'll never be the same. Your son's body is squished in an ice cream truck freezer along with other martyrs because it's too risky to leave the body at the hospital in case your place of work is the next destination of a white phosphorus bomb. And as the last living member of your family, your death will wipe your lineage from your Earth.

Malcolm X said the media is the most powerful entity on Earth, they have the power to make the innocent guilty and make the guilty innocent. You, Mr. Bibb, have become a victim to this, and after hearing all of our voices and receiving all of this information, your ignorance to the Palestinian genocide has officially expired.

3:01 Permalink

Summer Husein

Good evening, everyone. I don't know if you remember me, Mayor Bibb, but I met you last year as an intern for Senator Brown. To be honest, Mr. Bibb, before today, all I knew about you was the fact that you support union pensions, and the apartheid state of Israel. I was taught not to be quick to judge, so I did my research. But I do have a question for you, Mr. Bibb. When did you decide that some lives are worth more than others? Very open and clear on your website, you highlight that everyone deserves to feel safe in our neighborhoods, at school, or at the grocery store. Well, Mr. Bibb, in case you didn't know, the Greater Cleveland area is home to over 25,000 displaced Palestinians. And your tweet in support of Israel ensured that none of them feel safe. With your tweet, you decided that the lives of Palestinians in Cleveland were worth less than the rest of your constituents. With your tweet, you decided that the lives of over 2 million Palestinians in Gaza were worth less than the lives of others. From your initiatives, Mayor Bibb, it is clear that you have a passion for ensuring that people have access to education, and that affordable housing is available to all those in Cleveland. Well, Mr. Bibb, in case you were unaware, the people of Gaza no longer have access to education as their schools have been wiped out, books blown to bits, not to mention that while you push for affordable housing, Palestinians have no housing at all. Their houses have been pulverized to dust in a matter of a week by this apartheid state that you seem to be standing in solidarity with. So again, Mr. Bibb, I ask when did you decide that Palestinian lives weren't worth as much as others? Mayor Bibb, if you remember, your office released a statement in February 2022. Quote, 'As thousands of individuals are displaced from their homes and livelihoods in the face of war and violence, we want to remind the world that the city of Cleveland are here to embrace them with open arms', end quote.

In just one week, Israel has admitted, confirmed, and celebrated killing over a thousand Palestinian children. In a whole year, Russia killed 487 Ukrainian children. May they all rest in peace. Well again. Mr. Bibb, I ask you why do the lives of Ukrainians matter more than the lives of Palestinians? You rightfully defended Ukrainians, going as far as to offer them asylum, while Palestinians have been enduring a genocide for over 75 years. And please don't take my word for it. Israel has admitted to all of its international war crimes. So again, Mayor Bibb, I ask why did you decide that some lives are worth more than others? Today, Mayor Bibb, I'm going to ask you to not be quick to judge, to carefully consider all you hear today and to consider all you will hear from the media after today. As we've seen and proven numerous times in the past, the devil works hard, but the Western media works harder.

Today, Mayor Bibb, Council, and everyone in this room, I hope you recognize your American privilege. You will go home to a house with running water, heat, food, access to education, and most of all, safety. Today, Mayor Bibb, you will be able to go home and know that you won't have to defend your existence or your place as a human. You will go home and wake up tomorrow in a house surrounded by all the amenities you so quickly decided that an entire ethnicity does not deserve. Words have impact, Mr. Bibb, and after today, I hope you recognize that, because with just one tweet you dismissed and diminished the oppression that Palestinians have had to endure for over 75 years. Mayor Bibb, Palestinians know what our voices are worth as we have been shouting for decades and will continue to until the world finally decides that our lives are worth something too. Palestinians will continue to exist unapologetically, and due to the world's ignorance, Mr. Bibb, we pay the price for that every day. I don't know about you, Mr. Bibb, but I was taught the only authority on whose lives matter was God, and with your tweet, you decided that was you. Your initiatives and your stance on the apartheid state of Israel don't seem to be adding up. You always fight for initiatives that improve people's lives, so is it. Thank you.

3:03 Permalink

Omar Kurdi

Greetings, Mayor Bibb, Council President Griffin, and council members. My name is Omar and I'm an Arab-American working in Cleveland and residing in Strongsville. I come to you not with joy, but with sadness and disappointment, sad because of all the violence taking place in Palestine and Israel, disappointed because while the city condemned Hamas' attack on Israel, there was no mention of the violence Palestinians in Gaza are going through today, and have been going through since the siege began in 2007. This isn't a 10-day conflict, this is a decades long occupation.

Ironically, today is the 16th anniversary of me moving into the Greater Cleveland area. I was able to accomplish a lot here, but today I am fearful for my community. Just yesterday, a Palestinian child in Chicago, 6 years old Wadea Al-Fayoume, was stabbed 26 times and murdered. His mom was also attacked and is in critical care. This happened because of the biased media coverage in the US, where Palestinians have been dehumanized consistently for the past ten days. This happened because our own President called our Arab-American community a domestic threat. I don't stand for violence nor terrorism. I stand for every life and every faith and every human. I have poured my heart and soul into this city, but for what? What is Cleveland going to do to protect me and my fellow Arab-Americans? I'm here to demand that Cleveland fights for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. I demand that Cleveland stands on calls for aid to enter Gaza immediately, to assist Palestinians who are out of food, water, electricity, and a roof to sleep under. I'm here to demand that Cleveland commits to protecting all its residents and visitors from all different faiths and ethnic backgrounds. The attack in Chicago could happen here. Just last week, a random person posted a picture of me while I was here next to the City Hall doing a TV interview wearing this scarf, calling me a terrorist. This could potentially put me and other community members in danger, and I want to see real commitment from the city to protect us, humanize us and our people, and to stand up for all civilian lives.

I condemn the murders of Israeli innocent civilians as much as I condemn the murders of Palestinian innocent civilians, but this isn't a fair fight. This isn't a war between two countries. Palestinians in Gaza do not deserve to be collectively punished. Entire families have been eradicated, buildings have been flattened, the death tolls are almost 3,000. Over a thousand children have been killed, hospitals have been bombed, first responders have been murdered. Journalists have been murdered in Gaza and in Lebanon. A ceasefire is immediately needed to save what is left of Gaza and its people. Humanity will remember that you only cared for one side and not the other. I should not fear for losing my job or my life, and for simply demanding that Palestinian innocent lives be given the same amount of concern, love, mourning and outrage as Israeli lives. If humanity is what you stand for, do something demand a ceasefire and stop the cycle of violence while also protecting us here in our home of choosing. We could all do better. Thank you.

3:02 Permalink