April 01, 2024

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Public Commenters (25 min)
Basma Hamid  Chairman Fahiem  Khalid Hamdallah  Zaha Zayed  James Richards  Brenda Bickerstaff  Basheer Jones 

Basma Hamid

Good evening. The US government is shipping new armed vehicles plus 23,000 bombs to Israel to kill more and more children. So far, more than 40,000 people have been murdered in cold blood in Gaza, and more than 14,000 children. Congress has approved aside from the the annual $4 billion a year, $3.8 billion, with pending $18 billion in military aid to Israel. Ohio, Cuyahoga County and Justin Bibb all combined spent $22 million on Israeli bonds.

None of this spending is benefiting the American public in any way rather than taking away resources from the American families. Do you know what else taxpayers pay for? Wrongly convicted persons, for crimes they have not committed. According to National Registry of Exonerations, Cuyahoga County specifically is among the top 10 counties in the nation for exoneration, and nobody held accountable.

The culture of impunity will keep bad actors and careless judges from being held accountable for their role in unjust convictions. Did you know Israel offers universal health care to their citizens and permanent residents, while average American citizen is uninsured, children cannot walk to school due to lack of safety, there are abandoned buildings, homes, commercial buildings almost on every street on the east side and west side of Cleveland. Streets and sidewalks are not safe to use. They are full of potholes and lack lighting. The crime rate is on the rise, yet here we are giving billions of dollars to another occupying regime full of illegal settlers.

Our daycare school programs, health care, college education, are not available to everyone because of income guidelines, therefore all the taxpayers money should not be stolen and spent on irrelevant issues outside our communities. Rather than it must be spent on the community it is coming from, the community, and must roll back into the community for the purpose of establishing new developments for the public buildings, new vocational schools for youth that includes but not limited to sports, language, technology, construction, auto mechanics, to get them out of trouble and teach them some skills to get into the workforce. Maintaining before and after school programs to care for children that aged out of daycare programs. Also, investing in new skillful programs for juveniles who have just been released from jail. The emphasis should be considering rehabilitation rather than punishment. Building more rehabilitation and community service centers for nonviolent offenders is more beneficial to themselves and to the public. Thank you.

3:15 Permalink

Chairman Fahiem

Okay, absolutely. How y'all doing today? Good? Okay. State of youth, part two. Experts are expecting or anticipating for us to have one of the most violent summers in the history of Cleveland, involving our youth in particular, so we together as a collective are extending a partnership to Cleveland City Council along with our youth that are incarcerated at CCJDC. We want to comprise a ceasefire resolution here in the city of Cleveland.

Our organization, New Era Cleveland, is going to implement and enforce this ceasefire resolution in the city of Cleveland, right. And one thing I realized following what's going on in Detroit, they funded six organizations for violence prevention and intervention. They saw a 70% reduction in crime in a 90-day period of time. Six organizations, 70% reduction in crime. Let those numbers sit with y'all.

We have this Neighborhood Safety Fund. 29 organizations were funded, and I don't have an issue with that, but my ask is we need a more comprehensive strategy with addressing violence in the city of Cleveland involving youth in particular. All right. I also want to extend an invitation to City Council members and to Mayor Justin Bibb to come down to JDC, speak with these kids and figure out what strategies can we Implement to get out ahead of this, right, as we're seeing youth being gunned down not only in the city of Cleveland but the surrounding suburbs. Two young girls' homes were shot up over this weekend, 18 and 13, both were hit with bullets, on the third floor of their home.

I think we all can realize that this has gotten out of hand. It's gotten out too far ahead of us. So as a collective, we're extending the invitation to this body to put together a comprehensive strategy, and in partnership with some of these businesses, we've created safe zones from Lakeshore to Buckeye, giving these businesses skills and strategies to implement when a crisis is in place. We want them to do their due diligence, not lock their doors. And also, the City Council, I want y'all to take a proactive approach, right, when it comes to these juveniles, what is influencing these kids. Stop at some of these businesses in your wards that are selling them drug paraphernalia, that are promoting gang violence and promoting gang culture. We have to hold every single entity in our neighborhoods accountable, not just the children that are being exploited. How does a 10-year-old living in King-Kennedy get his hand on a Glock- 19 with an extended clip? He doesn't just find it layng around his home. We got a serious issue here and again, I am pleading with you all to get out ahead of this. We can't lose another child. We can't afford to. 22 kids were murdered in the city of Cleveland last year. One is too much. Can we all agree that one is too much. Thank you.

2:55 Permalink

Khalid Hamdallah

As-salamu alykum. Ramadan kareem. I'm a ward 3 resident, and one of the many proud Clevelanders who filled these halls over the last 6 months demanding our voices be heard and calling for a ceasefire resolution to be passed. Before we get to that though, I wanted to take a quick second to acknowledge Council President and the other members who joined us last weekend at our annual CAIR iftar. While I fully understand that you're all politicians and showing face like that is part of the job, I also know that community engagement is extremely important in building bridges and cultivating positive relationships. Last week, on our 17th visit here, we finally got what we had been asking for, sort of. I couldn't help but notice the word ceasefire wasn't even in your resolution. Perhaps that was your indirect way of letting us know that you didn't appreciate our tactics in getting here or perhaps you were afraid to upset those who insisted that calls for a ceasefire were anti-semitic, and that committing actual war crimes in response to alleged war crimes was justified. But I digress, at the very least I was hoping for a condemnation of the Israeli government for their consistent and documented breach of international law, not only over the last 6 months, but the last six-plus decades as well. Because it is them, the Israeli government, and them alone who is responsible for the attacks that began the most recent escalation in this so-called war. The inhumane and debilitating conditions that they continue to perpetuate every day will never guarantee them safety no matter how many billions of dollars in aid our American government sends them every year. And while I would love to come here every week and give you a history lesson on Palestine, we've decided to focus our efforts on demonstrating the direct connections that we in Cleveland have with the fanatical regime that is Israel. We hope and believe that by showing our fellow citizens the interconnectedness with such a fascist foreign government, we can begin to apply pressure on our elected leaders to boycott and divest from these dangerous companies and organizations. Companies like Shotspotter, now known as Sound Thinking, a discriminatory auditory policing system installed in primarily black neighborhoods on the east side, signed off on by Mayor Bibb. These racist policies and techniques of over- policing while simultaneously cutting funding and resources in our communities that need it most are directly related to the racist and discriminatory policies tested and implemented in Palestine, so when we say 'free Palestine', it unironically means free Cleveland, too. It means that children in Collinwood and Qalqilya both have access to a great education. It means that neither parents in Gaza nor Glenville have to worry about food security. It means that from Nablus to East 29th, people can live in peace with liberty and dignity.

We are so tired, but we are so energized. We are in utter disbelief, but our faith has never been stronger. We are fed up, but we are starving for change, and we are coming for the whole damn system. Thank you for your time.

2:51 Permalink

Zaha Zayed

Good evening, Council. My name is Zaha Zayed and I'm a member of the Palestinian Youth Movement. I grew up in Cleveland as my family owns a local business in ward 14, and I'm the mother of of an abundant Palestinian little boy who echoes 'free, free Palestine' with every opportunity he gets.

I'm here today to speak about my concerns for the Cleveland community and the responsibilities we each have to bring- so sorry, I'm so nervous. I'm here to speak about my concerns for the Cleveland community and responsibilities we each have to bring to worldwide unity. Firstly the ongoing genocide in Gaza has created a local crisis and divide here in Cleveland. For whatever reason, the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people is apparently too political that the Jewish Federation accused you of giving credence to hateful rhetoric targeting the Jewish community for passing a ceasefire resolution.

With this criticism I'm sure now you understand a fraction of what Palestinians feel daily for advocating for Palestine. The difference between you and I is that you are being criticized for your your vocalism.

[Griffin]:Take your time. I'll give you more time if you need.

[Speaker]:Thank you, I'm sorry, I just.

[Griffin]:Take your time and I'll give you more time if you need it ma'am.

[Speaker]: We local businesses and business owners have been targeted harassed and vandalized. There have been many reports of these hate crimes, yet the city continues to do very little for our safety, or to bring justice in these unprecedented times. It took 17 weeks for Cleveland to pass a resolution for ceasefire, the absolute bare minimum to acknowledge the importance of Palestinian lives. When the situation is dire, I question your roles as representatives to our city along with each of your moral values and obligations to humanity. Why did it cost over 40,000 Palestinian lives to pass the ceasefire resolution, with over 25,000 of those being women and children? That does not excuse the murder and bombing of men because they are simply born as Palestinians. These are lives of innocent civilians. Over 75 years of military occupation and 7 months of witnessing a genocide, who has really opened their eyes? Who chooses to remain blind? I look to each of you to take a stand for humanity and do what is right. The work in our community is just beginning. You have a responsibility that comes along with the chairs in which each of you are sitting.

I ask you to unite with your Cleveland constituents as we are now here demanding local divestments. I want to be direct in saying that we are recognizing the interconnected nature of Israel's over-militarization and how that looks here in the US, and that we as a community will no longer be silent in this recognition. Local divestments ensure that this over-militarization is not peptized in the Israel government infrastructure. Local divestments show constituents that you will not contribute to the incoming treatment of Palestinians in Palestine. Local divestments show your constituents that the city will not contribute to the Israeli government occupation in Palestine. It's time to stop funding Israel's war crimes and instead improve the well-being of our own citizens' lives. Do not use our tax dollars to fund genocide when we ourselves have a Cleveland that is in crisis Cleveland before our eyes. Thank you. Free Palestine.

4:00 Permalink

James Richards

Good evening. My name is James Richards, resident of Ward 1, city of Cleveland, Vice President of Cleveland Ohio Southeast Residents Organization also known as CORSERO.

I came before this body to set the record straight on the non- participation by the community involvement in the Lee-Harvard Master Plan, a plan that was created by the City of Cleveland and developers.

Since 2018, CORSERO has met with various City of Cleveland departments expressing our vision on the development of the Grace Mount site and the JFK site. At the Gracemount site, the community would like to see an intergenerational park. Likewise, at the JFK site the community would like to see a state-of-the-art library and possibly a family play center just like the one at Edgewater Park. And also restoring the Roy Kidd stadium for health and wellness in the community.

When the master plan was presented to the community, our visions were totally ignored. All that was mentioned during the process was housing. There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about, and Lee-Harvard's master plan is missing this piece. The Lee-Harvard community is not against the development, we just want our voice heard and development that represent our Lee-Harvard community. Thank you.

1:33 Permalink

Brenda Bickerstaff

First I would like to give my condolences to the young lady that got killed on the other end of my street.

I want to name some names. Anthony Johnson, Detective Schroeder, Officer Clark, Wayne Leon. These people, Councilman Kazy, died in the line of duty. On the night this young lady got killed, in the morning, I saw the officer dropped down to his knees. I saw the female bend down and say 'shots fired, we need back up.' So when you sit up there and you laugh and say you don't want the Cleveland Police Commission to succeed, you're laughing at our dead loved ones. My dad was a cop for Cleveland for 33 years. My sister is a cop in Pennsylvania, and my cousin was one in Cleveland who passed away. I pulled a a memo that you put on your Facebook page for Issue 24 and you blatantly misled the public and said that commission would get rid of the mayor, the chief, and the safety director, and that is not true. No commission across this country can get rid of those people. It has to be a recall when it's a mayor. Now I'm going say as far as black women, the man who was hanging out that car, Mayor Bibb, he's a coward. I saw that man gun that woman down like a dog. He's a coward and he needs to be held accountable for what he did, and I hope he see me cuz I'm not scared of you. And I'm going say this. I'm here to work with all of you, men and women, but the men of this Council, please respect me. Do not step up in my face because I'm going to take that as a threat. Now I can go toe to toe with you, I can go toe to toe with the mayor, I can go to toe to toe to the law director, but I don't step up in their faces. I don't do that. Joe constantly is always helping us with this commission. He's the only councilman that backed us. And I get it, you guys don't want it, I get it, but at the end of the day, this is what the voters voted for. Now we waited 100 years for reform in this city with the police, you mean to tell me you can't have a little bit of patience with this commission? You right, Councilwoman Gray, they're messy, and you know I check them, and if you look at that last meeting I checked them real good. I call them out just like I call out the police. A citizen have just as much rights to due process just like all these police standing around here, and that's why we made it for, equal and due process. And at the end of the day, let's stop all of this bickering, let's roll our sleeves up, let's get together, let's get the consent decree out of here. And this is what I want you guys to do, work with the police department so they can come in compliance because the judge is working with them too. Thank you.

3:12 Permalink

Basheer Jones

As-salamu alaykum. [inaudible] I'm so happy to be here with you. It's funny you know, Councilman McCormack and I, we fought for public comment, and I couldn't even get on it. It took me four or five weeks to have the opportunity to be here and it's just so humbling as life goes up and goes down.

You know, to Mayor Bibb and to Council President and to the council members, this time that we are living in, I wanted to come here and speak to you as people of faith. As you know we're in the month of Ramadan right now, for those who are Muslims, and for our Christian brothers and sisters having experienced Easter, and I want you to think of something. What is going on in our society where many of you who I know, we're friends, we had great times together, what is going on in our society that you are not able to speak what I know is in your heart? I know it's in your heart. There is no way that we can say that we love that Palestinian Jew named Jesus and not have any love and respect and honor and empathy for the Palestinian people. I want to say to you that if you say what happened in Gaza is a result of October 7th, then what you're saying is the violence that's going on in Cleveland is a result of the Kia Boys. You are looking at the what and you're not paying attention to the why, and the sad part about it, as a person who was the first Muslim city councilman here in Cleveland history, to see my friends be silent. And I know you're not silent because you have a bad heart, but the silence is a result of the society that we live in, that we are afraid to speak what's on our heart.

Whether you're Jewish, you're Christian, you're Muslim, none of that stuff matters. As parents, you can't help but to see these babies who have died overseas and feel something in your heart. I know you do. I know you do. But the sad part about it is that we're not able to say anything out of the fear. I want to say to my Palestinian brothers and sisters that I stand with you for the freedom of Gaza. I stand with you for the freedom of Gaza, but at the same time I need for you to stand with me on what's happening on St. Clair and Superior. We need for you to stand up and fight for us, and there has to be a strong black and brown coalition so that we understand that what's happening in Gaza as far as the genocide, this genocide is taking place right here in America. Right here in our neighborhoods.

So I say to Mayor Bibb, I say to you, brother, that I'm here to support you. I'm here to support you. I want to work with you any way that I can work with you, because until we have a stronger east side of Cleveland and until poor people in the city are able to experience the same type of life of anybody else, then Cleveland will not thrive. It will not be successful until St Clair look like Lorain, until Superior look like Detroit, it will not get better. So as your brother, I stand for Gaza and for my brothers and sisters who are here, stop talking about Hamas. You don't have even heard of Hamas until the news start talking about it. But the same people who talk about Hamas is the same people who call us thugs, so we understand this rhetoric of these words that are used and thrown around. But you have no knowledge about it. Council President, thank you, Mayor, I look forward to working with you, brother. To my colleagues, I'm so happy to see you and I hope, please don't lose your heart. I know your hearts. Don't lose your heart because of the political climate. Please. Thank you so much.

3:55 Permalink