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Published on Jul 15, 2015
On April 11, 2015, people affected by the brutality of the criminal justice system in Cleveland Ohio gathered at Cleveland State University to tell their stories to a panel of distinguished civil rights activists.
Organized by the local activist group Puncture the Silence-Stop Mass Incarceration, the tribunal gave voice to courageous testifiers who refused to remain silent about their harrowing experiences with law enforcement officers and prison guards. These stories reveal the tip of the iceberg of the kind of outrageous treatment the people of Cleveland, particularly people of color, endure on a daily basis. The stories, which depict officers who feel justified in perpetrating crimes ranging everywhere from harassment and intimidation to torture and murder, lead inescapably to the conclusion that Cleveland’s police force is a diseased entity infected by a culture of impunity. Meanwhile, we see the psychological damage that continues to be inflicted on the members of the Cleveland communities terrorized by the police.
The panel that received the testimony was a powerhouse of people of conscience comprised of: Dr. Ed
McKinney, Social Work Professor Emeritus, Cleveland State University; Writer/activist Rev. Leah Lewis;
Shemariah Arki of Excellence Management Group; Cephus ”Uncle Bobby” Johnson, Uncle of Oscar Grant; Edward Little, Public Policy Consultant and one of the Cleveland 8 working for Justice for Tamir Rice; Bill Swain, Revolution newspaper; and Genevieve Mitchell, Director of The Black Women’s Center. As they listened to often excruciating detail of police assaults and murder, they offered support to help the victims cope with their pain, saying “We’re here to lift you up.” They expressed militancy in calling for resistance, participation in the “Shut Down” actions on April 14, the need for all to say, “No more!” and for the need to give voice to the unheard stories of those who have been killed. They stated that we are in a state of emergency and the time for action is now, if we are going to stop police murder.