Sam Allard / Scene
Hands Up! Don't Shoot!
Visible protests, and the occasional downtown traffic re-route, may become a regular fixture of city life in Cleveland over the next week or so, as local groups continue to rally to end police brutality and to to convict "racist cop killers."
Thursday afternoon, small groups from both Puncture the Silence and Revolution Books (Cleveland's stalwart Communist stronghold
) waved signs and shouted their messages on Public Square.
The protest was specifically in response to Eric Garner's choke hold death in New York City and a jury's decision not to indict police officer Daniel Pantaleo there. But Cleveland's ongoing protests should be interpreted more as outrage at its breaking point, at least according to Puncture the Silence's Carol Steiner
. Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and even Eric Holder's distressing visit Thursday
all appeared in chants on Public Square.
Just a smattering: "No Justice No Peace, No Racist Police!" "Justice for who? Tamir! Justice for who? Michael Brown! Justice for who? Eric Garner!" "The whole damn system is guilty as hell, send these racist-ass cops to jail." "Whose streets? Our streets!"
After circling the square's western quadrants a few times, and once a few more supporters had trickled in, protesters processed onto Ontario street and blocked North / South traffic. They held signs with individual letters that spelled "Black Lives Matter" and at one point sat down to observe 4-and-a-half minutes of silence to represent the number of hours Michael Brown lay dead on a Ferguson street, and the number of minutes Tamir Rice lay wounded without medical attention.
Police arrived on scene almost instantly, and calmly redirected vehicular traffic, including RTA buses, during the delay. At one point, protesters parted to let an ambulance pass.
"We're not evil people," said one of the lead protesters from Revolution Books, whose name was Blue.
Protesters plan to be at Public Square again Friday at 3 p.m. to "shut it down," and intend to participate in nationwide protests all next week called for by groups in Ferguson and New York City.
"What's at stake here is whether the color of a person's skin should determine how they live, or even whether they live," read a flyer from Revolution Books, promoting Friday's protest. "It's time for you to get out into the streets, to fight back, to stand up, to say enough is enough, to say no more, to end this and change this system we live in."