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Cleveland Community Police Commission requests DOJ to investigate May 30 protests for civil rights violations

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Posted at 5:42 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-18 09:48:44-04

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Community Police Commission sent a letter to the Department of Justice and the Office of the United States Attorney, requesting an investigation into multiple incidents of excessive force, unconstitutional policing and other civil rights violations stemming from the May 30 protests.

The CPC requests that the Cleveland Division of Police, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department and possibly the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Police be investigated for civil rights violations during the protests in downtown Cleveland.

In the letter, the CPC noted video captured during the protests that the organization said “seem to have escalated a lawful protest into a violent and chaotic situation resulting in harm to participants and property damage.”

Examples cited in the letter included the deployment of tear gas, flash grenades, wooden bullets and pepper balls into crowds, a man attempting to keep the peace being struck with a baton and the incident involving John Sanders, the 24-year-old man who was shot in the face with a beanbag round and permanently lost the use of his left eye as a result.

The CPC requested that the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice immediately investigate to determine whether any of the agencies mentioned “were engaged in violations of civil rights via attacks on peaceful protesters, unlawful arrests of protesters and the use of excessive force on protesters.”

The letter continues:

The Cleveland Community Police Commission asks that the DOJ once again take a look at law enforcement in Cleveland centering around the practices and policies of these agencies in Northeast Ohio that may deprive persons of their right to lawfully assemble. The Constitutional violations specific to exercising First Amendment rights appear to have continued despite current reform efforts mandated by the DOJ.

Additionally, there are more departments involved than previous DOJ investigations, which only encompassed the actions of the Cleveland Division of Police. Residents of Northeast Ohio deserve equal and professional treatment by all police officers when exercising their right to assemble and protest. City and county official’s subsequent defensive responses to the incidents outlined above show little regard for the trust our current Consent Decree is designed to improve. For example, the media has recently highlighted numerous contradictory statements between the agencies involved.

Although there may be multiple concurrent investigations of these events, the DOJ is uniquely equipped to handle complex questions regarding constitutional rights.

To read the full letter, click here.

RELATED: CPD officer who appears to strike protester also under investigation for pepper-spraying another