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Cleveland communities leaders demand a plan after seven-weekend homicides

Posted at 9:49 PM, Nov 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 00:02:41-05

CLEVELAND — Cleveland police reported seven homicides in three city neighborhoods on Nov. 13, 14, and 15, and it has some community leaders calling for a specific plan to stop growing gun violence.

Pastor Aaron Phillips with Sure House Baptist Church and the Executive Director of Cleveland Clergy Coalition told News 5 the weekend shootings claimed five lives, ages 18 to 84, in just a 24-hour period, with one of the homicides taking place in his Union-Miles neighborhood.

Phillips is calling on the city to increase the number of patrol cars near his church, as well as the Lee-Harvard and Mt. Pleasant neighborhoods.

"I am very upset and very troubled, by the escalation of violence that we’re seeing,” Phillips said.

“Seems like it’s getting worse instead of getting better, people are just running roughshod in our community.”

“We have to make sure that the people we elect in office, we hold them accountable.”

“If we just did that, put more police cars on the streets, did that, and have a presence, so that people would know there are going to be consequences.”

“There’s a reason people don’t commit these kinds of crimes in Beachwood, there’s a reason they don’t go to Parma because there is a police presence, they know better.”

Nancy Jones, a community advocate, who is also working with Cleveland Rising Summit said she and a group of neighborhood leaders are trying to get the City of Cleveland to institute a plan similar to the Indy TenPoint Coalition being launched in Indianapolis, to reduce rampant gun violence.

Jones said she's working with the Ohio Attorney General's Office and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office to get Cleveland to adopt the plan, which utilizes former gang members to mediate solutions with known current gang members to stop the violence.

“We need to look at who has solved this issue, which is making headway," Jones said.

“With these gang members, you try to bring them to counseling, you offer job training, you offer what it is that they need, is it drug help that they need.”

Jones said more funding is also needed to curtail gun violence in an effort to solve other systemic issues in these neighborhoods that play a role in increased crime.

“These things aren’t going to be solved just by simply getting people to stop shooting at each other," Jones said.

"You’re still going to have poverty, you’re still going to have substandard housing, you’re still going to have inadequate healthcare, you’re still going to have high unemployment.”

News 5 reached out to the Cleveland Police Headquarters about this story, and we were referred to the Cleveland Mayor's Office.

The Mayor's Office issued the following statement in response to our story:

"The City of Cleveland and urban areas across the United States have been severely affected by skyrocketing violent crime statistics including shootings and homicides. While many of the cases can be traced to incidents of drug and gang activity, the exact cause of the drastic increase is unknown.

Investigators continue to work hard every day to solve cases while policing in unprecedented circumstances in times where situations and resources change rapidly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Law Enforcement continue to encourage citizens to report criminal activity to police and remind members of the public that they can do so anonymously to Crimestoppers by calling 216-25-CRIME."