Join the Coalition to end the corrupting influence of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association

All Candidates for Public Office in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County 2021 and 2022

I am Samaria Rice, mother of the late Tamir Rice, founder of the Tamir Rice Foundation, and concerned resident of Greater Cleveland. I am writing today to ask for your help in making Cleveland’s political landscape free from the influence of the powerful Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association (CPPA).

In my struggle for justice for Tamir, it has become clear to me that elected officials endorsed by the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association cannot be relied upon to uphold the values of racial justice and civil rights, especially when a position on these matters contradicts the position of the CPPA.

For the election cycles in 2021 and 2022, the Tamir’s Campaign for Justice team and I have created a survey that asks if a candidate will solicit and accept a CPPA endorsement or funding. We will send this questionnaire to all candidates running for office in Cuyahoga County in 2021 and 2022.

I am writing to request your formal support in this effort. Formal support as a group constitutes a public pledge to organize and mobilize your base against the corrupting influence of the CPPA and candidates who take their endorsement. Formal support as an individual constitutes a public pledge to vote against CPPA endorsed candidates.

If you agree, please sign and share with your networks.

Thank you and I look forward to your response!

Samaria Rice

(Tamir Rice Foundation affiliation provided for identification purposes only. This letter is sent in my individual capacity.)

Sponsored by

To: All Candidates for Public Office in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County 2021 and 2022
From: [Your Name]

We invite you to take a brief survey regarding your position on receiving endorsements from the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association (CPPA). This survey is brought to you by Cleveland community organizations who oppose the political influence of the CPPA.

Since its founding in reaction to racial-justice uprisings of the late 1960s, the CPPA has established an outsized, antidemocratic effect on politics in Greater Cleveland. From endorsements in the electoral process to policy-creation and implementation, the CPPA’s sway has been devastating, especially to communities over-policed by the force.

One internationally condemned example is in the murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, and the failure of the CPPA-endorsed, former prosecutor McGinty to indict the officers involved. McGinty had also been named Ohio Prosecutor of the Year by the Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

At the time of Tamir’s murder, the CPPA publicly defended officer Timothy Loehmann, and besmirched the character of the child and his surviving family. They continue to support Loehmann to this day in his lawsuits in appellate courts to return to the force. Due in part to restrictions in the CPPA union contract, the Cleveland Division of Police could not fire Loehmann for murdering Tamir, but only because he lied on his application. This put Loehmann a single judicial decision away from patrolling Cleveland’s streets again with a badge and a gun.

For over fifty years, the CPPA has used its political clout to insulate its members from genuine discipline and accountability. The City has caved into a one-sided contract that undercuts public safety: providing cover for officers under investigation for serious misconduct, mandatory arbitration rights resulting in unfit officers returning to duty even if they are convicted of crimes, concealing disciplinary records from the public, making it difficult for citizens to file abuse complaints, and having taxpayers foot the bill of civil case settlements.

To be clear, we are not opposed to unions. We are opposed to police impunity, and the associations that enable officers who target Black, brown, and poor people with excessive and sometimes deadly use of force. Their contracts with cities across the nation provide iron-clad protections from discipline and discharge—stronger than what a union can typically wrest from management. Indeed, it is easier to fire a union grocery worker who takes a quart of milk than to fire an officer who kills someone.

Whereas labor history has rich examples of civil-rights unionism, the CPPA’s legacy is one of dogged opposition to any form of civilian oversight or progressive policy change. The organization helped establish a political environment that sanctions consequence-free killing, brutality, intimidation, and humiliation of Cleveland residents. Simply put, the CPPA seems to never have found an instance of police misconduct that it finds indefensible.

Thanks to a federal lawsuit against the City of Cleveland, residents have begun to see a semblance of change. The U.S. Department of Justice intervened in 2015 to force the city into a consent decree after the shooting deaths of Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell, when dozens of officers engaged in a high-speed chase and fired 137 shots into a car of unarmed citizens, and not one officer was found guilty of misconduct. That decree however was compromised and watered down, due to impotent politicians facing pressure from the CPPA.

The results of this questionnaire serve to isolate the CPPA by exposing the elected officials in our county who owe them their political careers and futures. As the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County work to build public trust in public safety and the justice system, it should be seen as politically toxic and a severe conflict of interest for any candidate running for office to seek or accept endorsement from the CPPA. We urge judges, mayors, prosecutors, council people, and all other elected officials and candidates to reject the corrupting influence of the police lobby. Without doing so, we cannot rely on you to uphold values of racial justice or safeguard our civil rights.

We have one question for you as a candidate for public office for the years 2021 to 2022:

Will you solicit or accept political contributions or the endorsement of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association (CPPA)?

Yes: ____ No _____

If you answer “Yes,” you may expect our organizations and individuals to organize against your candidacy.

If you do not answer, absent a persuasive explanation as to why you did not answer, we may infer that you are privately and actively seeking CPPA endorsement, and that we need to organize against your candidacy.

Thank you,

Tamir’s Campaign for Justice