We demand three hearings and open public comment on Operation Legend.

Kevin Kelley, President of Cleveland City Council, All Cleveland City Council Members

We ask for urgent action:

It is our understanding that on Sept. 3, 2020 the Safety Committee of Cleveland City Council approved and forwarded to full Council a proposal for a grant application to participate in the Department of Justice program called Operation Relentless Pursuit/Operation Legend, the latest of many initiatives pairing local law enforcement with federal agents and overseen by the US Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

This federal police funding initiative should be subject to the legal requirement for three hearings. We demand this legal process and reject any proposal to pass “emergency” measures to bring Operation Relentless Pursuit/Operation Legend to Cleveland without public hearing or comment.

This is a moment in which the citizens of Cleveland need to engage in conversation about public safety in our city. Here are some of the points we would like Council to debate:

Cleveland is already overpoliced. Cleveland has 37.4 officers per 10,000 population and for cities the size of Cleveland, the average is 18.7. Our nation is currently experiencing a tidal wave of recognition that racism flourishes among us. Of all our national institutions, the most violent and disproportionate impact on Black and brown people comes from policing. We reject the mindset that we will be safer if we expand and empower the very institution that is responsible for so much violence and anguish in our neighborhoods.

In Oct., 2019, the Marshall Project published an article with the title “ Why Some Police Departments are Leaving Federal Task Forces”. Once deputized as federal agents, police officers are bound by federal, not local rules, such as those regarding body cameras, which federal agents do not wear. Officer misconduct may be beyond the reach of normal disciplinary procedures and prosecution. San Francisco, Portland, OR, St. Paul and Atlanta have all withdrawn from federal task forces as a result of conflicts around racial profiling, body cameras, and accountability. In Cleveland, our consent decree has given rise to many reforms that may be unenforceable for officers serving on federal task forces.

Attorney General William Barr simply cannot be trusted to adhere to established norms respecting the limits of federal authority. The citizens of Portland, OR who were attacked by federal agents during the protests following the death of George Floyd tell us a cautionary tale: federal agents can be turned into an occupying force targeting Americans.  

“After all these are crimes that stem from a host of socioeconomic ills”. This is a quote from Justin Herdman, the US Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. He made this statement at the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice Reduction of Crime Hearing: National and Local Perspectives on April 7, 2020. We agree with Mr. Herdman. We also feel that the best way forward is to address those socioeconomic problems, and the racism that underlies them. The solution is not more surveillance or more militarized police on our streets. The solution lies in addressing the heart of the problem and that is systemic racism.

The people of Cleveland should have an opportunity to debate these points with their representatives on the Cleveland City Council. When Council declares an “emergency” and evades the requirement of three readings, democracy is starved. When Council routinely passes ordinances without input from the public, democracy is throttled. Please, provide the leadership Cleveland needs to begin airing our concerns around policing, and to initiate a new path toward public safety and justice.

Sincerely,

All those who have signed the petition, and the following groups

Resist ORP/OL Cleveland

Our Revolution Cuyahoga

InterReligious Task Force on Central America and Colombia

Our Revolution Mahoning Valley

SURJ NEO

Black Lives Matter Cleveland

Cleveland Peace Action

Defend Black Women Cleveland

Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing



To: Kevin Kelley, President of Cleveland City Council, All Cleveland City Council Members
From: [Your Name]

It is our understanding that on Sept. 3, 2020 the Safety Committee of Cleveland City Council approved and forwarded to full Council a proposal for a grant application to participate in the Department of Justice program called Operation Relentless Pursuit/Operation Legend, the latest of many initiatives pairing local law enforcement with federal agents and overseen by the US Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

This federal police funding initiative should be subject to the legal requirement for three hearings. We demand this legal process and reject any proposal to pass “emergency” measures to bring Operation Relentless Pursuit/Operation Legend to Cleveland without public hearing or comment.

This is a moment in which the citizens of Cleveland need to engage in conversation about public safety in our city. Here are some of the points we would like Council to debate:

Cleveland is already overpoliced. Cleveland has 37.4 officers per 10,000 population and for cities the size of Cleveland, the average is 18.7. Our nation is currently experiencing a tidal wave of recognition that racism flourishes among us. Of all our national institutions, the most violent and disproportionate impact on Black and brown people comes from policing. We reject the mindset that we will be safer if we expand and empower the very institution that is responsible for so much violence and anguish in our neighborhoods.

In Oct., 2019, the Marshall Project published an article with the title “ Why Some Police Departments are Leaving Federal Task Forces”. Once deputized as federal agents, police officers are bound by federal, not local rules, such as those regarding body cameras, which federal agents do not wear. Officer misconduct may be beyond the reach of normal disciplinary procedures and prosecution. San Francisco, Portland, OR, St. Paul and Atlanta have all withdrawn from federal task forces as a result of conflicts around racial profiling, body cameras, and accountability. In Cleveland, our consent decree has given rise to many reforms that may be unenforceable for officers serving on federal task forces.

Attorney General William Barr simply cannot be trusted to adhere to established norms respecting the limits of federal authority. The citizens of Portland, OR who were attacked by federal agents during the protests following the death of George Floyd tell us a cautionary tale: federal agents can be turned into an occupying force targeting Americans.

“After all these are crimes that stem from a host of socioeconomic ills”. This is a quote from Justin Herdman, the US Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. He made this statement at the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice Reduction of Crime Hearing: National and Local Perspectives on April 7, 2020. We agree with Mr. Herdman. We also feel that the best way forward is to address those socioeconomic problems, and the racism that underlies them. The solution is not more surveillance or more militarized police on our streets. The solution lies in addressing the heart of the problem and that is systemic racism.

The people of Cleveland should have an opportunity to debate these points with their representatives on the Cleveland City Council. When Council declares an “emergency” and evades the requirement of three readings, democracy is starved. When Council routinely passes ordinances without input from the public, democracy is throttled. Please, provide the leadership Cleveland needs to begin airing our concerns around policing, and to initiate a new path toward public safety and justice.

We urge this today.

Sincerely,
The signers of the petition, and the following groups

Resist ORP/OL Cleveland

Our Revolution Cuyahoga

InterReligious Task Force on Central America and Colombia

Our Revolution Mahoning Valley

SURJ NEO

Black Lives Matter Cleveland

Cleveland Peace Action

Defend Black Women Cleveland

Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing