While Issue 24’s supporters occupied a portion of Chester Avenue just east of downtown on Friday, which was International Day Against Police Brutality, critics of the proposed charter amendment packed a bar on the other side of town later that same evening.
“Issue 24 is the most asinine amendment ever to hit the ballot,” said mayoral candidate Kevin Kelley to a group of about 40 of his supporters gathered at West Park Station, a bar on Cleveland’s far west side.
He even told them he’d push to repeal the charter amendment if it passes.
“I, as mayor, am going to go to the board of elections, and I’m going to pull petitions,” Kelley said. “I’m gonna walk, and I’m gonna knock, and I’m gonna get signatures, and I’m gonna put something on the ballot to repeal it immediately.”
Just a few hours earlier, leading supporters of Issue 24, under the name Citizens for a Safer Cleveland, recounted stories of police killing their loved ones to a few dozen people gathered outside the ACLU’s Cleveland headquarters. Shortly after, they marched down Chester Avenue, signing and chanting, before rallying at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.
“Issue 24 means the world to me,” said Alicia Kirkman one of Citizens for a Safer Cleveland’s leaders. A Cleveland Police Officer fatally shot her son, Angelo Miller, back in 2008.
The City Club of Cleveland also brought representatives from both sides together for a forum on Issue 24 on Friday.
Issue 24 is a proposed amendment to Cleveland’s charter that, if passed in the Nov. 2 general election, would create a new permanent governing body, made up of mostly civilians, called the Community Police Commission. The amendment would grant the commission authority over police policies and discipline. It would also restructure the Department of Public Safety’s Office of Professional Standards such that it would report to the city’s Civilian Police Review Board rather than the safety director.
Opposition to Issue 24 has intensified in the lead up to the Nov. 2 general election. Kelley has adopted opposing the charter amendment as a core pillar of his campaign, and his allies like Mayor Frank Jackson have recently attacked the amendment’s supporters.
Meanwhile, Citizens for a Safer Cleveland has been holding community conversations to explain the initiative for the past few months. Supporters of the amendment have also recently sent out a flurry of op-eds to local media.
For information about the Sept. 14 primary and Nov. 2 general election, including registering to vote, visit boe.cuyahogacounty.gov.
Michael Indriolo is a reporting fellow at The Land.