The Cleveland Police Department Reaches a Settlement with the Department of Justice
Memorial Day weekend has hosted several important developments in the world of criminal justice. Today, the Cleveland Police department—which has come under fire in recent months in the nationwide debate over police tactics—agreed to follow some of the strictest standards in the nation over its officers’ use of force. Cleveland agreed to the terms as part of a settlement reached with the Department of Justice over what justice officials called a “pattern of unconstitutional policing and excessive use of force.”
According to the Justice Department’s report, the Cleveland police department used stun guns inappropriately, punched and kicked unarmed people, shot at people who did not pose a threat, and failed to report or investigate most of these incidents. As a part of the settlement, Cleveland agreed to some of the most rigorous policing standards in the nation. These include:
Banning pistol whipping, the firing of warning shots, and the use of neck holds (that pistol whipping had to be explicitly barred says enough).
Creating a community police commission, made up of ten representatives from around the community.
Allowing an independent monitor to track its progress.
The settlement comes just two days after a white Cleveland officer who fired at least 49 shots at two unarmed African Americans was acquitted of manslaughter by an Ohio judge. Officer Brelo’s acquittal—as the latest in a series of troubling racially charged incidents across the US in places like Baltimore, Staten Island, and Ferguson, MO—prompted protests that remained largely peaceful but still resulted in the arrest of 71 people.
Some bad news also came out of the criminal justice sphere this weekend. On Friday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan vetoed three important criminal justice reform bills. In addition to vetoing a bill to limit civil asset forfeiture, and a bill to remove the penalty for marijuana paraphernalia, Hogan also vetoed a felon re-enfranchisement bill that would have restored voting rights to 60,000 ex-felons. Restoring access to the ballot for ex-felons is a priority in the criminal justice reform community and Hogan’s veto will serve as an important test to see whether reform advocates will show that choices like Hogan’s can have political repercussions.
BOTTOM LINE: Agreements like the one made between Cleveland and the Department of Justice have the potential to create meaningful change to a flawed system. But as Gov. Hogan’s vetoes remind us, there is much more work to be done to convince some elected officials to do their part.
Historically, African Americans worked mainly as servants in Tulsa, where they developed their own insular society with its own economy. Black businesses clustered on the strip of land that would become Greenwood in 1905, when African Americans acquired the land. Businesses included a grocery store and a barbershop. Doctors and real estate agents opened their own businesses. The neighbourhood also had its own newspaper and schools.
Black Wall Street was thriving at the time of the Tulsa race riot of 1921. The riot, however, took a heavy financial toll on African Americans. Many homes and businesses were destroyed. Moreover, following the riot, residents of Greenwood met resistance to rebuild. Nonetheless, African American professionals and entrepreneurs slowly began to rebuild. Lawyers offered legal assistance to African Americans jailed in the riots and helped them sue the city for compensation. A massive reconstruction of the district was completed in 1922, only one year after the riot and without the help of the greater Tulsa community. Eighty businesses were opened by the end of 1922.
The community thrived throughout the first half of the century, even during the Great Depression. In addition to the usual businesses, the area formerly known as Black Wall Street contained a business college and the reopened offices of the African American newspaper. Many middle- and upper-class African Americans lived there. In addition, it provided the backbone for greater civic and political participation by Tulsa’s African American residents.
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By the end of the 1950s, however, more than half of the businesses had closed. Desegregation allowed the entry of businesses owned by whites, while increasing numbers of African Americans in the community invested in entities outside Greenwood.
By 1961, 90 percent of African American income in Tulsa was spent outside of the Greenwood district.
The creation of the Greenwood Cultural Center, formed in the late 1970s, attracted tourism to the area. In addition to addressing African American culture and working on creating more harmonious race relations in the city, the cultural centre was charged with preserving Black Wall Street. It was also responsible for building the 1921 Black Wall Street Memorial in the name of the people who had died in the riot.
This article was most recently revised and updated by André Munro, Assistant Editor.
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Tulsa, city, Osage and Tulsa counties, seat (1907) of Tulsa county, northeastern Oklahoma, U.S., situated on the Arkansas River. It originated in 1836 as a settlement of Creek Indians who named it for their former town in Alabama. White settlement began after the arrival in 1882 of the St. Louis-San…
Tulsa race riot of 1921
Tulsa race riot of 1921, race riot that began on May 31, 1921, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was one of the most severe incidents of racial violence in U.S. history. Lasting for two days, the riot left somewhere between 30 and 300 people…
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