By Roldo Bartimole
The Bonnie and Clyde ending to two nondescript misdemeanors by the Cleveland police and their 137 bullets is just a reminder of how bad things are in Cleveland. It’s shameful.
What was it a rabbit chase?
What really does it say to Cleveland citizens – especially to black Cleveland citizens? What it says, I suspect, is that you are worthless. You are targets.
Are we back historically to the time when Cleveland Police Chief Richard Wagner took his rifle to house tops during racial strife? Have we advanced so little in reality? Is it hunting season?
I thought things were supposed to have changed. Or at least changing. Not so.
To learn that only a handful of Cleveland police cars have dashboard cameras suggests the lackadaisical approach to governance here. It suggests now wanting to know what is happening. Again, shameful.
It shows a sloth at City Hall hard to explain in a city as large as Cleveland.
To say funds are lacking is laughable.
The shooting is too predictable as events go here.
I have a sense that City Hall is on cruise control.
And why not? There has been a period – near a decade now – where we have seen little vision of a future for much of the city, other than the establishment-dictated downtown development.
Took a walk past the new Cleveland Medical Mart last week. It looks awful. A box-like structure out of place. It did have a purpose. The excuse to raise $800 plus million for a new convention center. The center, still under construction, can’t really be well-viewed but I’m not hopeful from what little that can be seen. Is this all there is to the city? Or all that anyone with power cares about?
The dispiriting riddling of a car with two suspects by police (of what crime at the start seemingly is very questionable) continues a pattern of neglect for human life. The black community has reason to suggest they are targets.
I thought it would be different under Mayor Frank Jackson. I guess I gave him too much credit.
Back in January of 2006 in his first week of office I saw the Jackson I thought I knew.
My headline was: “Jackson’s First Move Made with Perfection.”
I was wrong.
“Mayor Frank Jackson,” I wrote in the 2006 article, “in the first week of his administration made it clear that he’s the man in charge and took on what is typically one of the very toughest issues any mayor faces. The police.
“His announced police policy says, ‘Excessive force shall not be tolerated,'” I went on.
“Jackson told the Cleveland Police Department that he’s in charge and that a new day had begun with the announcement of new rules on ‘use of force.'”
It went on: “Jackson, by his new rules, cuts off excuse making about police shooting civilians under questionable circumstances. There has been a rash of such shootings in recent times.
“I like the way Jackson made this announcement in terse but certain commands. He showed that he is very serious and that he’s in charge.
“It was a perfect tone to set for his administration and I’m surprised that it didn’t get more exposure and comment in the news media.”
I noted that he was “marking a new calendar and I would suggest that the police force understand this man’s seriousness.”
His resolve seems to have been forgotten in the succeeding years. Faded maybe.
Even more worrisome is the feeling that Jackson is coasting. A look at his cabinet suggests very little change since the White administration. Many of the post are still held by former White people. They’re tired.
All indications are for Jackson, now in office for six years, will go for four more with no opposition. That’s too bad. Unhealthy for the city.
Ten years of coasting at City Hall insures a deadly lethargy of ideas and policies.
And if Jackson meant what he said about not tolerating excessive force now is the time to prove it.
In 1991 he was awarded the Second Annual Joe Callaway Award for Civic Courage in Washington, D.C. He received the Distinguished Service Award of the Society of Professional Journalists, Cleveland chapter, in 2002, and was named to the Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame, 2004. [Photo by Todd Bartimole.]