May 13, 2024

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Public Commenters (28 min)
Rev. Pamela Pinkney-Butts  Faouzi Baddour  Kareem Henton  Selena Vicario  Chairman Fahiem  Rameer Askew  Israel Jeffries-Goods  Kiya  Marley McMichael 

Rev. Pamela Pinkney-Butts

Good evening. Council President Griffin and Mayor Bibb, I would like to see you after the meeting for about 5 minutes please if I may for a matter that I don't want on camera, please. On February 22nd, 2018, Cuyahoga County Council did not allocate funding for community development to any non-white mayors in the county, in Resolution 2018-32, which was granted to all white mayors in the county. The city of Cleveland was denied this funding. So was East Cleveland, Warrenville Heights, and the city of Maple Heights, all of which have black mayors and had them at this time.

When a black person becomes a leader in any capacity to develop communities, the funding is blocked, denied, and disappears. Arrests and murders increase against black, brown, multi-racial, and indigenous people in this country, in this city, this state, and in this county. The rainy day funds have been denied to the people of color in the city of Cleveland and other places of black, brown, multi-racial, and indigenous people in leadership. East Cleveland is only one of the places which also has no grocery store and other major community necessities. Every black mayor gets attacked in East Cleveland. I have witnessed Forest City build housing for wealthy white people, with a homeless black man laying over man hole as if he is just a piece of rubbish on the street downtown here. Community development. Please, Council President and Mayor, make these people accountable and have them explain to us why Shaker Square and our City Hall chambers that we are in today right now look like a war zone and have been declared one. These are only some of the examples of concern, so what communities are being developed? Who are they being developed for? We have doors broken down on the front door downstairs.

As for educational empowerment I have seen no legislation implemented to empower people for education. I see and hear about sports and entertainment. We are not here as people of color to entertain white people, racist white people. We are here to make decisions, too. We are the people who make up this city. We are not jokers in a courtyard while slaves are sold on Public Square and private land is sold to, our land is sold to, private wealthy racist white people. We all know that the school system is a pipeline to prison. It is time to turn the page, put prayer and power back into our schools in the name of Jesus Christ, for we people of color. And I would like to speak to you, Council President and Mayor Bibb, after this meeting, for something that came up today. Thank you.

2:43 Permalink

Faouzi Baddour

Good evening, thank you Council President, thank you all for allowing me for the fourth time to address you. Two days ago we celebrated the birthday of Frank Cudell, and in our own way. He's now 180 years old. 72 of this he lived here, and 108, his soul is with God. We know he's with God because he was genius, courageous, and a human being.

Our gift to him, a gift to his soul was that we will never ever ever give up the fight for what he left for us, his park. He left his park for all generations to come, and we promised him that we will keep fighting until that park is safe. The promise that the city of Cleveland gave to him in 1906 when he transferred the first deed, that his gift will be saved forever, and then through his will. Now I just don't understand why it has taken so long to solve this problem. I mean, in 1954, I said that to you before, in 1954 when the city of Cleveland wanted to build a fire station in the park and the community opposed, Mayor Anthony Celebreeze said we can't relocate the community, we can relocate the fire station, and they did. They found a place in West 99th and Madison right outside the park.

I have faith in you. When you passed that land swap resolution, you didn't know it was a park. They presented it to you as surplus properties, and we know now, you know now, it was wrong. I'm not asking you on behalf of the community to take back that resolution, just, we have solutions. We have solutions and just have him talk, have open talks with us. We have solutions, good solutions, right solutions. And for Mayor Bibb, I knew him when he was 18, 19 years old, when he he used to come to our [inaudible] clubs, and we talk, and I thought, he is the bright future of this city and maybe beyond. Come on, Mayor Bibb, we expect you to make a decision to preserve the climate that you proud to be the climate mayor. Thank you.

3:03 Permalink

Kareem Henton

All right, good evening everyone. Bet you're glad to see me instead of the big crowd that you've been used to having for a while. Now you love me, but anyway, well, I'm starting off talking about the Browns Stadium. The reason I'm bringing up the Browns Stadium is because it kind of seems like that is probably the most important piece of land that I think City Council is currently focusing on.

So now that I have your attention I would like to ask, or ask that you understand that the real estate that has my attention and the attention of many in this city is that of vacant plots, or vacant lots, within the city.

When the city has the lots, the surrounding property owners are robbed of their labor, as they maintain that property. When the city has the lots, Cleveland city landscapers may come and cut the grass, but they also cut the trash, and they also make mud pits of the property, leaving a mess in the street and sidewalks for us residents, us property owners, to have to clean up, or not clean up. And I know that is a lot of wasted money, because I know when people have not cut their grass and Cleveland comes out and cuts it, I know of the exorbitant price that they're charged, so every time these landscapers come out that work for the city cutting land that the city's just holding on to, I think that's a problem.

When you lease the lots to many of us, we have invested a lot of time and money into those lots. We will have planted things, we will have done a lot of things to those pieces of property, just for you to be able to take it whenever you want after we've put so much labor and love into that plot. Lots are great for green spaces, carbon offset, making food for our community, and beautification. Beautiful lots inspire beautiful residences around it. Beautiful residences inspire beautiful neighborhood blocks. So now I ask you, with this in mind that I'm talking about, what is the process, or rather why is the process so hard and discouraging when we're trying to get those lots so that we can do some beautiful things in our neighborhood. I'm trying to understand if we can have a talk about this, about seeing how we can make this better, because I for one, have an issue with the lot that I watch that people park in, people burn rubber, not burn rubber, they kick up mud in, as well as not just residents or people in the neighborhood, but city employees as they come and cut the grass and they leave a mess for me to come clean up. But think about the people who cut those lots, and you guys take those lots from them, and they've been beautifying it for so long. Thanks.

3:24 Permalink

Selena Vicario

If we had a medicine that had as many benefits as parks, we would all be taking it. APA chair member Howard Frumkin, Senior Vice President of Trust Republic Land, said that in a report, parks deliver cardiovascular benefits, fight loneliness, combat osteoporosis, counter stress and anxiety and more, and they do those things without adverse side effects, and at minimal cost.

In 2018, analysis from the Land Trust found that residents within a 10 mile walk of parks were in better physical health, and have less stress than people living farther away.

Public green space is an asset that needs to be jealously guarded. We can't commodify every public space available to us or no public spaces will be available at all anymore.

And it's not even considering sustainability, that's just ineffective, short-sighted city planning and leadership. Supporters of this project say that we care about the trees only, and not about the education system or the safety of children, which is completely false. Cleveland Metropolitan School District allowed their buildings to deteriorate into a state of disrepair. They misappropriated funds which should have been used to repair schools and maintain a healthy and safe learning environment. However CMSD accepted an unethical land swap deal for the Watterson- Lake property and thought no one would notice the destruction of the park.

The community has been given the illusion of choice on so many matters. Those in positions of power decide what's going to happen and they don't allow us to have any say in the matter. What they do instead is allow us to make very trivial decisions about the plans that they have already instituted. It's bogus. It's not representation. It's not city planning. Community building is so much more than that. Our current institutions have completely removed any focus on community building and replaced community building with commercial development and overdevelopment of community-oriented urban areas and public green space. Forgive me if I'm trembling but I was always taught to be nice, and there's no nice way to say, shame on you. You, a city council, keep approving projects that are removing resources from the community, not replenishing them, and not even pretending like you're going to. A public park is a resource, and for it to be reappropriated for less public use that is needs to be redressed. Why aren't you committing to finding creative administrative solutions to the actual problem? Wherein constant conversation is about population density, we don't need to increase population density, we need to increase resources and services provided to the community and residents that are already here. We need stricter building regulations for developers, and there needs to be more public oversight. Parks provide platform to bolster social connections through both structural group activities and informal encounters, construct social connections, improve health, and people who are lonely are more likely to get sick and die younger. Parks improve urban environments and help protect residents from growing threat of climate disasters, heat waves, severe flooding. Thank you.

2:51 Permalink

Chairman Fahiem

How y'all doing. Good, good. For the second week in a row I noticed that Councilwoman Deborah Gray is not present during public comment, and so my question is, how long are we going to continue to allow leaders to duck accountability, right? This public comment sector was created to hold these leaders accountable and for us to be able to voice our opinions and be heard, right. So if people are not present, how are our concerns being heard, especially in regards to their communities in particular, right.

I'm a firm believer that you judge a tree by the fruit that it bears, so I brought some of my kids down here, like y'all been seeing me for the last few weeks. They're going to get up and make public comment. They're going to get up and advocate for the youth. They're going to get up and tell you all exactly what they need to see happen in their communities right from them, because often times when we're talking about addressing youth violence, the youth are not present, their concerns are not heard.

And again for the second time, I'm extending the invitation to the council members Councilman Polensek, Richard Starr, Rebecca Maurer, Joe Jones, Mr. Hairston, Stephanie Howse, I forgot your last name but, and Mayor Bibb included. I'm extending the invitation for you all to come participate in our program at the Juvenile Detention Center.

I saw councilman, I'm sorry, Mayor Bibb, that you went to go visit with Lazy Bone, Krazy Bone, I don't know which Bone Thug it was, but I saw that you was at the Detention Center doing this program. That was cute, but I'm sending an invitation for you to come talk to these same kids, right. We've all seen an uptick in violent crime in the last 30 days and I forewarned you all weeks ago it is going to get worse. This is just the preseason. We have not seen anything yet, and if you don't believe me let's revisit this conversation in August and September. Let's see where we are in regards to homicides involving juveniles in particular. It's getting worse, homes being shot up with babies inside of it, a police officer was just murdered not too long ago, right. I don't know how many kids I got in my program right now that are being bonded over as juveniles to an adult court. It's sickening. I'm on a pod with 30 youth, the vast majority of them are in for aggravated robbery, aggravated homicide, receiving stolen property. 70% of them. And I think that it more so reflects on the leadership, like we're seeing in all cities across the country. Everybody's been innovative when it comes to proactive approaches to addressing crime except for here in the city of Cleveland, and I think that ties into this check-in mentality, right, that we're saying in order for me to do work in your neighborhood, I need to check in with you. Are you making sex offenders check in that are human sex trafficking kids or businesses that are selling tobacco products to juveniles? I'm not checking in with nobody. Thank you.

2:57 Permalink

Rameer Askew

Peace and love, family. I want to start by saying, I want to start off by saying, I am somebody. We are somebody. We're more than a statistic. We the youth are not born to be killers, murderers, or thieves, we're taught that. For the things we're exposed to on social media, the music we listen to and the TV shows we watch.

See, we the youth have a curious mindset. What you feed our curiosity with becomes our reality. Now a group that I do see, that I have seen in person done a great job at working with the youth, not only help develop the youth but also developing the families, cuz they understand it starts at home, is New Era Cleveland. They do this by teaching us who we are as black kings and queens, teach us about Mansa Musa, teach us about who we were before the transatlantic slave trade, the school to prison pipeline, how the city make 1 million off of homicide, and that's not counting the people that survived the shootings, as well as expose us to field trips, from going to Detroit, going to Pittsburgh, going to Dayton, seeing that not only we got ghettos but every city ghetto looks the same. And how can we play a positive, be a positive instrument inside these ghettos. By giving the families food, giving them resources to be great, to be somebody, cuz we are told that we're not nobody. I've seen New Era do this and they constantly doing this by exposing us to these things, working with the youth, work with the community, engaging with the community. Last year, they found five missing kids, fed over 25,000 families, but it's not talked about, but they're labeled as a criminal organization.

On our last, on a recent field trip on April 26, we went inside ward 4, inside a community meeting, but we is going there to seek knowledge on what's going on inside the community but yet we hostile by Miss Deborah Gray, somebody supposed to be our leader, that's supposed to be showing us love and care, but she told us, the youth, that y'all can leave cuz she have a difference between, he have something between Mr. Chairman Fahiem. What that got to do with us? The youth supposed to be working for us, the youth, make sure we are okay, but you kicking us out. How you make all decisions for the youth but you have no youth inside these spaces to speak on what we want, what we deserve.

So I don't know what's her problem with us but I like to extend an invitation to her and anybody else, cuz we don't want to fight against our sister, we want to fight with our sister. We got way more things to worry about. So we invite her to New Era Cleveland. Anybody else, you want to come down, 659 Broadway Avenue Beford Ohio. See us, actually get an understanding of who we are as young kings and queens and what we fighting for, and I believe yall understand we fighting for the same thing and that's change. If you want to ask for the statistics of how if this really works, we are the statistics. We are the proof that this works, that want to get here with courage to speak on, not even reading from this paper, speaking from our heart, about what we experience as a youth, what goes our goes inside of our community. Not only inside our community, our homes, and inside our schools. Speak to us, the youth, before you label us as criminals, thieves, thugs, speak to us, understand us, cuz you will never know how to love and care for us if you don't understand us. That's my time. Thank you, have a blessed one.

3:00 Permalink

Israel Jeffries-Goods

Dear City Council, my name is Dwayne Wayne and I am the chairman of New Era Cleveland Troops, and I am here to talk about kids and the gun violence.

The kids and gun violence in our neighborhood is an ongoing problem. Every day our kids are dying or going to jail and getting locked up behind bars. All of these kids are out here killing other kids and stealing instead of doing the right things. And I think how, I think I know how we can help with that is invest in academies like New Era Cleveland Cave of Adullam Academy.

The Cave of Adullam Academy helped me with my clothing brand, how I act, how I think, and how it takes my time off of outside where I usually do bad things, but taught me how to do good things in and outside of the academy. The cave taught me about Emmett Till, the Black Panther Party, and Chairman Fred Hampton, and told me how the school to prison pipeline is coming for us, black youth especially.

And we are also helping families by giving them food and their kids toys. We have an clothing closet at our Academy, 659 Broadway, with shoes and clothes, and the youth can go and get it whenever they need it or if they want it. And we are tired of kids killing other kids that look exactly like themselves. So this is why I think you guys should invest in the organization New Era Cleveland Adullam Academy. Thank you.

2:02 Permalink


How you doing. Okay, hi, my name is Kaia and I'm from the New Era Cleveland and I'm here to speak about gun violence. The way I feel about gun violence is important because based off my own experience, I used to think it was cool to own a gun. I thought that made you cool until I watched a very close family friend get shot over nothing.

When will you do something about this gun violence? How would you feel if you watched a family member of yours get shot, you'd be hurt, right? You want some justice, right? So, exactly. You have the power to make things right so why not do so? There are programs for children to stay off the street and stay out of gun violence, gang violence, more so gun violence. What will you do about this? Will you just sit back and continue to turn on Channel 8 news every morning and see how we lost another life due to gun violence?

The New Era Cleveland has helped me a lot. I used to have a lot of free time until I joined the football team, but I still had lots of free time afterwards because that was only from 4 to 6 and you could do a lot of things after 6:00. So afterwards I often spend my time doing and being around things a 16-year-old girl shouldn't partake in. I don't have that free time anymore because all my all my free time is spent working and developing on myself, trying to form my new life, because I have plenty of years ahead of me. I don't I want to be one of those kids who's died due to gun violence. Make a change because you have the power to use it. When will this problem come to an end? Fix the problem before it becomes too late. Fund the companies that will actually make a difference instead of funding the companies that'll just take your money and influence the kids more in gun violence. Thank you.

1:54 Permalink

Marley McMichael

Dear City Council, my name is Marley Marie McMichael. My public speak is about youth violence. I will now begin. First I will start my issue. Gun violence is a problem with our community. Moms can't even go to sleep without knowing their son is gone. I hate to have this in a community.

Now I want everybody to think if you saw or heard your son's life was taken. It's bad isn't it? That's what moms have to suffer with. In court, they're seeing who did this only to find out this kid is about 16 or 15. How can a 16 or 15 kid get a hold of a gun like that?

Next I will start my [inaudible]. Less kids are alive. Some kids are even scared to go outside and step outside because of what's happening out there. It's not fair that they can't go outside because every day on the news it's always saying shot fired, shots fired at 5-year-olds.

A solution is maybe we can stop the music, kids listen about rappers killing another rapper. This is really bad. Another way is we have an Academy located in Bedford, 659. If anybody has been through some things and I know this because we have helped many people who have saw loved ones died to gun violence. Thank you.

1:14 Permalink