January 29, 2024

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Public Commenters (21 min)
Stephen Katanovic  Shereen Naser  April LaRow  Rev. Pamela Pinkney  Dontez Taylor  Sarah Popivker  Alec Popivker 

Stephen Katanovic

I'm addressing a local issue. I am wrongly banned at the Erieviewview Tower. 8 years ago, Galleria security told me that I was banned for life from entering the Galleria Erieview Tower YMCA complex. Once again, 8 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. 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 agenda is well known over here. James Kassouf is the current owner of the Erieview Tower, and I am writing monthly letters to James Kassouf and Associates. Once again, eight years ago, Galleria security told me that I was banned for life from entering the Galleria Erieview Tower YMCA complex. I was wrongly accused of masturbating in the restrooms.

You want me to talk about the war. I'll make it real quick. People have been making war for 8,000 years. That's right, people making war for 8,000 years. Cain versus Abel. It's time to break the cycle of war. Work for peace. Work for peace. Now don't forget about my wrongful ban 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.

2:09 Permalink

Shereen Naser

This is my 11th straight week of attending City Council meetings. Every Monday I leave work and I come straight here. I skip dinner. I go the entire day without seeing my kids. I left my daughter with 102 fever at home tonight. I come here because I can't live with myself if I leave my kids this broken world where their voices are seen as less important and their lives as dispensable. I come because it's the least I can do for the father in Gaza, who spent the last two months digging through rubble looking for his 7-month-old daughter's body to give her a proper burial. I come for my own father, who's in the West Bank experiencing diminishing economic opportunity, lack of access to clean water, and rampant violence from extremist Israeli settlers. I come for the Cleveland Palestinian students that I speak to who tell me about experiencing horrible discrimination in their schools, including in CMSD and Cleveland universities. I also come every Monday for the millions in Ohio who struggle to put food on the table or pay rent while $3.8 billion a year of our tax dollars get sent unconditionally to a foreign country to kill Palestinians. I come because I have an obligation to use whatever voice I have in whatever space I can to tell this world, to make this world do better and be better.

I'm not the only one here today with this story, leaving our families, skipping dinner, putting our other obligations aside every Monday. We show up week after week because we believe that the world can and should be- a better world, can and should be fought for. We come every week cuz we still have hope that our city representatives can be brave and can stand with us to make that world better. We come here every week because we see you as our potential partners in building this better world. There is nothing complicated about saying, stop the bombing of hospitals, schools, refugee camps, and return all of the hostages. There are children dying in Gaza without any external injuries because radiating pressure from so many bombs is causing their lungs to collapse, and we are paying for it.

I do not believe for a second that any single one of you, not one of you, thinks that is okay. I think that if you weren't in your current seats you'd be sitting back here with us. I think that many of you would have signed the ceasefire letter, which now has over 1,800 signatures.

So break this invisible barrier. Stand with us, be with us. The world will never be the same after this. 10, 20 years from now, when you think back on this moment, I don't want any of you to have any regrets. I do not. I together want us to build a beautiful Cleveland that speaks for justice, that welcomes all, and that prioritizes people over war. You all have everything you need to be in partnership with us, to stand up, brave leaders in service of this community, you have language that the Jewish Federation sent each of you and made public that says they would agree to a ceasefire, and the stipulations for that. You have the language we propose to you and our testimony over the course of 11 weeks. All that is left is for you to act. We're simply asking you to raise your voices with us, to act with us. Please.

3:15 Permalink

April LaRow

City Council President Griffin, Council women and men, Mayor Bibb, my name is April. I do have a business in Ward 7 and I'm also a nurse. Unlike Shereen, last week was my first City Council meeting, and I want to tell you all that you brought a lot of shame on our city.

Last week, by refusing to stand to condemn the murder of 30,000 civilians, I was embarrassed to be a lifelong Clevelander. Council President Griffin, you talked about decorum in your media interview, and I personally don't see any decorum, and the fact that you have ignored these people for 11 weeks. My plan today was to come up here and speak from a nursing perspective, from a health care perspective, how the health care system in Gaza has been completely decimated. Every single hospital bombed, 400 doctors, nurses, medics, have been killed. Many have been kidnapped by the occupation forces. People are living without access to medication because the occupation won't let the medication in.

But honestly, I know that all these people here have told you these facts for 11 weeks, so when it appears to me that you don't see Palestinians as human. I have no Palestinian blood in me, no ties to the region, and I am mortified by your actions. My 11-year-old daughter, she wanted to come here today, and I emailed to ask if she could speak in my place, and Deputy Clerk Allan Dreyer wrote to me that there have been weekly demonstrations at the council meetings and they've been pretty negative experiences, and that it wouldn't be a environment for her. So she ended up coming home from school sick today and she wanted me to pass along a few messages to you. And I want to tell you this girl is a firecracker, an honor student, a future lawyer, she's performed at the Rock Hall, this girl's going places. And she wanted me to tell you all that the children of Cleveland are watching you, not just the children of these people but my children, everyone's children are watching you, and she said that standing with these people would not be a negative experience but an empowering one.

Finally, Council President Griffin, in your interview with the media you also mentioned that the protesters want Council to act in ways that are out of Council's control, yet we know that you passed a resolution for Ukraine within a month, and it's not your decision to make, it's the constituent decision. It's all of your jobs to be a voice of the people and not your donors.

2:56 Permalink

Rev. Pamela Pinkney

Good evening, everyone and Happy New Year. Good evening, everyone and Happy New Year. It's time for world peace, you all. Time to stop all this. It's time to free America, free Palestine, free Africa, free Israel, free the people from all of this violence here in Cleveland Ohio and across the world.

Before I proceed, Jesus heals, Christ reveals and overcomes. I owe an apology to Mayor Justin Bibb, Judge Kathleen Ann Sutula, Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Meredith Turner, and to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O'Malley.

What I did, when I spoke here on September the 25th, was wrong. I take what I do very seriously, and I'm a leader and I have to lead people to do what's right. Whether you all do what I agree with or not, I should have done better and I ask will you please forgive me for that, because I hope I didn't start a wave of trouble. Jesus heals, not kills. Christ overcomes, not beats up people, and I apologize for that. I ask that this Council would begin to put legislation in place, I'm the founder and visionary of the International Heterosexual Clergy Alliance, that you would begin to put legislation in place to implement rights for we who are heterosexual, Christian, multi-racial, and the people of color. There's a wave in this nation that's transferring into other nations, of racism and other isms and I ask that you would begin to implement draft legislation that would be suitable for the executive and judicial branches of government, as well as the religious community, to be able to fulfill. It's time out now for people to stop being afraid of law enforcement officers, and law enforcement officers being afraid of the people. It's time out now for people that have come down here being angry and afraid that they don't know whether their children will come home from school or not, their places of worship will be bombed, whether they have a safe place to be here in America, in Palestine, in Israel, in Africa, or wherever, we need some current legislation that will be able to be suitable to meet the needs of all of the people.

Once again, I don't come down here to bash fight and argue or insult or embarrass anybody, but I say to each of you listening to me today and hearing me today, it is time for world peace. Thank you very much.

3:05 Permalink

Dontez Taylor

My name is Dontez Taylor. I am concerned about our Juvenile Detention Center. We need to find out how City Council, County Council, can come up with a program for our kids so when they get out of the juvenile detention center, that their diploma if they need a high school diploma, and they get it in there, it could be accredited where they can use it at these at these colleges and all over the United States so they can get stuff done.

And then Child and Family Services, we need to find out why they are deploying our kids and using them as people and using their bodies as wrong objects, and everything else out here in our city, and everything else. And God bless you, and I would like to see that we can work together to do this so we can make it better for our people out here.

1:17 Permalink

Sarah Popivker

Esteemed mayor and members of the City Council, we just commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day and never like this year. It has been as painful and sober of a day because the Jewish people, and in particular Jewish women, have been victims. On October 7th, once again a genocide by the hands of heartless Palestinian terrorists. There are still dozens of women held hostage in Gaza, but pro-Hamas groups, including local ones and their followers, have been trying to minimize this horrible crime, saying that somehow these women deserve to be captured, raped, and mutilated because they are Israeli. In other words, Me Too, unless you're a Jew.

Which person in their right mind would spread this kind of message?

I am very grateful to you for condemning the horrible acts of October 7th and beyond, and want to encourage you to stay strong in the pursuit of justice, because a ceasefire without the return of all the hostages and the complete elimination of Palestinian terrorists and their proxies would just mean rewarding the bullies like the ones present here tonight who have been bullying you every week. Shalom.

1:28 Permalink

Alec Popivker

Shalom Alaykum. Honorable Mayor, esteemed Council members. As Americans today we mourn for American soldiers who were murdered by Iranians, who also support these guys here and supported the genocide against Israelis on 10/7. May God avenge their blood, the blood of all the innocent people. I'd like to say a prayer. This prayer was said by Jewish people since the time of King David when King David would go out to war, like our government of America has been doing, fighting for justice and peace, and like Israel has been doing since its very inception, I'd like to say this prayer. May God help them all.

[reads prayer in Hebrew]

Please say amen. I wanted to say that the people speaking here, the way they demonize Israelis and Jews, this is not a new phenomenon, it's pretty ancient actually, and it comes from lack of education. So while I am very grateful to those of you, unfortunately not all the council members understand what propaganda is, and one person on this council is actually a victim of this propaganda. So while I'm very grateful for those who have the courage to speak the truth and support Israel, I think we're not doing enough in the matter of education. Our colleges, our schools, they're allowing this kind of propaganda to go on, and this is something that Governor Mike Dewine addressed over a year ago when he made an executive order for all public offices to adopt the IHF definition of anti-semitism. Thank you. God bless you.

3:00 Permalink