Many observers around the country thought there would be riots, perhaps even violence, in Cleveland when Cuyahoga County Common Please Court Judge John P. O’Donnell announced a verdict of “not guilty” in the trial of Cleveland Police Dept. Officer Michael Brelo on May 23. The verdict was the latest in a string of acquittals of white police officers on trial for shooting African-Americans.
The violence didn’t happen. Those who thought otherwise don’t know Cleveland.
Just two days after that, word began spreading that the U.S. Dept. of Justice had reached a consent decree with the City of Cleveland to end a pattern of excessive violence and depriving Cleveland citizens of their Constitutional rights.
How did all this unfold?
For the past dozen years of so, I’ve been fortunate to be selected to write stories for two main publications for the Public Relations Society of America, TACTICS and THE STRATEGIST. Below are links to information about these publications.
My story about how Cleveland kept the peace will appear in the July issue of TACTICS. It will also appear here. But the article would have been impossible without the help of two long-time men of excellent character and integrity who assisted me via interviews, Rev. Rodney Maiden of Providence Baptist Church and Tom Beres of WKYC Channel 3 News.
Both came their current positions more than 35 years ago. Both have overcome some daunting personal obstacles.
Rev. Maiden has mentored and helped prepare more than a dozen of the leading African-American ministers in Greater Cleveland since he became pastor at Providence Baptist Church in 1980. Dennis Kucinich was striving to stave off a recall challenge when Tom Beres began reporting at WKYC in 1979.
Their interviews provided key information for the story. Below are links to the digital audio interviews, podcasts, of both of them. If you want to “hear” the story of how Cleveland kept the peace, in their own words, you can do so here. Right-click on the link below, and then click on “Open in New Window” to download and hear the files. (You do not need to belong to Amazon to obtain and hear the interviews.)
My thanks also to Darren Toms of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, and others who assisted me with the story.
Special thanks to Christian Hunter, Greater Cleveland PRSA Chapter President, and long-time acquaintances Rick Batyko of Team NEO and Larcine Bland for their help.