Congregations Rally in Public Square for Police Reforms
A diverse group of religious leaders and congregants marched peacefully through downtown Cleveland today. Police cleared the streets and stopped traffic allowing hundreds of demonstrators to advocate for comprehensive criminal justice reform.
Greater Cleveland Congregations, a social-justice-minded interfaith group, planned the demonstration to follow the verdict in the Michael Brelo trial - but organizers said they wanted to bring attention to larger, long-term social problems.
Jawanza Colvin, pastor of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, spoke in front of the Justice Center complex, "After years of meeting in our churches, and meeting in our synagogues, we bring this fight to where it truly belongs: in front of this building."
Colvin expressed frustration that years of discussion with political leaders about reducing incarceration rates and making law enforcement more equitable had not brought about needed change.
In public letters printed on poster boards, the organization challenged County Prosecutor Tim McGinty and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson to do more to keep juveniles and low-level, non-violent drug offenders out of jail with diversion and treatment programs. They asked to see public plans to accomplish that in July.
Blaine Griffin, head of the mayor's Community Relations Board, accepted the letter to Jackson on the steps of City Hall.