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Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb defends process for Community Police Commission nominee selection

Mayor confronted with protest and air horns last week
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Posted at 5:18 PM, Nov 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-03 19:43:15-04

CLEVELAND — Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb is defending the city’s process of selecting nominees for the new community police commission after he was confronted with air horns and anger on the steps of city hall last week.

The city filed a letter with the federal judge in the consent decree case.

Mayor Bibb isn’t backing down and neither are the people who aired their grievances at city hall.

News 5 Investigator Tara Morgan sat down with Mayor Bibb Thursday morning, a much different meeting from nearly one week ago when we didn’t get to ask our questions.

The mayor retreated into city hall after protesters disrupted his presentation of the 13 commission nominees.

"It's democracy in action, right?” said Mayor Bibb.

But Bibb says he’s not going to let protests get in the way of their fight to enact real change people want for police accountability.

"The four people that were at the protest Friday — first and foremost, they were a part of our selection committee and none of them, none of those four people appointed anyone that would have been all five of those criteria,” said Mayor Bibb.

Kareem Henton, a Black Lives Matter Cleveland organizer, was the one front and center with an air horn last Friday on the city hall steps.

“It’s deflating because it makes you feel like it makes you feel like the fix is in,” Henton said. "It's not a matter of offering them up but actually a matter of voting or voting for certain people who were in the pool. Qualified people were a part of that pool.

Henton was part of the selection committee and the drafting of Issue 24.

"It's not a complaint or indictment on the people they selected, it's just that they didn't add to that mix of folks in the way that they should,” said Henton.

According to the charter amendment, a single member may fulfill more than one of the five categories, but Subodh Chandra, who authored Issue 24, said what can’t happen is one or more of the five categories being ignored, including having at least one person on the committee who had a loved one killed by police.

“This reeks of just legal loophole manipulation,” said Henton.

Mayor Bibb said he did have the final say on the nominees.

He says they have experts in criminal justice reform, someone who has been incarcerated and a mother who lost her son to gun violence.

News 5 Investigators asked Mayor Bibb why not reach out to the drafters.

"According to our interpretation of Charter section 115, we are fully compliant with the intent and spirit of what Charter section 115 calls for that was approved by Judge Oliver in March when we wanted to amend charter section 115 with the consent decree,” said Mayor Bibb.

The mayor said he is looking forward to getting the city council’s approval.

News 5 Investigators asked Mayor Bibb if he felt uneasy if people felt like they were being lied to.

“Absolutely not, we're talking about four people, four people that were part of the process that we engaged during my transition to get their input on how we execute issue 24,” said Mayor Bibb.

Henton says they hope to avoid a lawsuit, but legal action is on the table.

Last week, the law director said they knew there would be legal challenges and the city expects to prevail.

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