At least 60 (and as many as 100) concerned citizens gathered Tuesday evening at Angie's Soul Cafe on St. Clair for the inaugural meeting of the newly formed Cleveland Renaissance Movement.
The movement was conceived and mobilized by local poet and activist Basheer Jones
in reaction to the shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson and, locally, to the 2012 Cleveland police chase and shooting
which resulted in the deaths of unarmed Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.
The movement's mission, as articulated by Jones, is to "secure and enforce the protection of the human rights of all people of color." The hashtag #137, recalling the number of shots fired by Cleveland police in the 2012 incident, will be used to continue to galvanize support.
Though Jones wasn't immediately available for comment by phone, a clip of his opening remarks appeared on Facebook Wednesday morning.
"We are going to begin to hold people accountable," Jones said, "the people we are putting into office with our votes or with our lack of voting. Either way, we're putting them in. We want to make sure that the politicians in this city aren't just going to senior citizen homes to get votes. They gotta come through us. They gotta come through the young people."
Jones, an alum of Morehouse college and a longtime neighborhood activist, has been a presence on Cleveland's 107.9 and Radio One for years, advocating political involvement and positive behavior among (particularly minority) youth.
In 2013, he ran for the Cleveland City Council seat in Ward 7 (portions of the Central, Hough and St. Clair-Superior neighborhoods), a seat currently occupied by T.J. Dow.
@Rocky3ac, a musical artist with the local hip-hop outfit Threes A' Crowdd, said he met Jones about a month ago, when Jones reached out to him because his track "Pray for Cleveland" was inspiring folks.
Courtesy of @BasheerJ
Mobilizing young people of color for social and political change, at Angie's on St. Clair
"I do more than music," @Rocky3ac said when reached by phone. "But I went last night because we all wanted to unite. Basheer was telling everybody to stick up for their own. That inspired everyone."
A native of Cleveland, @Rocky3ac said everyone at Angie's arrived and left with the same feeling — that it was time for black people to unite, and that it's time for change. Three marches have already been planned for the upcoming week and more events and engagements will follow.