CLEVELAND — Dozens of Cleveland residents showed up to M-PAC Cleveland’s town hall meeting Thursday to hear Cleveland mayoral candidates’ stance on gun violence.
It was the first of two town hall’s M-PAC organized. Attendees expected to hear from Justin Bibb, Basheer Jones and Zack Reed, but only Bibb showed Thursday. M-Pac later said there had been a miscommunication with Jones.
M-Pac issued the following statement regarding the matter:
"M-PAC Cleveland acknowledges a miscommunication with Councilman Basheer Jones and his staff regarding his attendance at the August 26 Town Hall. Earlier today, Councilman Jones confirmed that he will attend the Town Hall on August 31. M-PAC encourages a quick spread of the error and begin to quickly spread that all votes matter."
Jones said that while he was not at the event due to the miscommunication, he remains focused on serving the community.
"We will not dwell on the miscommunication. The truth of the matter is that I have been on the front lines for over 20 years fighting for families who have suffered at the hands of violence of all kinds. I always show up when my community calls and always will," Jones said.
Many people in the crowd had their lives turned upside down from gun violence. They discussed the change they hope to see in the city.
Shareena Zayed lost her 15-year-old son, Amir Bradley, last year. He was shot and killed while walking home from a friend’s house.
“The bullet wasn’t meant for him, but it hit him,” she said.
Zayed said this election is a chance to change the neighborhoods, and that means the difference of life or death for many.
“The economy is great, wanting more jobs is fine, but if our kids aren’t alive, what does it matter?” she said. “They are being killed, and nothing is being done.”
Zayed said she wants to vote for a mayor who can fully staff the Cleveland Police Department.
“The city administrators need to let people know that we are not going to accept crime in our city. If you commit a crime we are going to give you harsh, swift punishment. They need more police,” Zayed said.
She also wants to see community engagement in the neighborhoods.
“The area where Amir was killed, nothing has changed in that area, no beef up in security, no surveillance cameras, no mental health assessments or treatment for any of the people that watched my son die on the street outside of their houses,” Zayed said.
Rochelle Moore has now lost 2 children to gun violence. Her daughter Shalaymiah Moore was killed in Euclid during an attempted robbery, but the 2 men convicted in her murder were from Cleveland.
“Fired a shot at her in the back and it went right through her heart,” she said.
Moore said she wants a mayor who will collaborate with surrounding cities and show a united front against crime in the area.
“It has to be mayors working with mayors, judges working with judges,” Moore said. “We need to come together so no one else will hurt like we are hurting.”
Moore said she is hopeful change can come, and said familiar pain can be powerful at the polls.
“People were here waiting for answers, waiting for promises that we are going to make them keep,” she said. “Make them do what we need to do to save our communities."
M-PAC Cleveland is a nonprofit collaboration of individuals who are surviving a murder loss and are working to end gun violence and social injustice. The town hall is also sponsored by Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance and hosted by Stoney in the City.
The next town hall is Tuesday at 5 p.m. at 2630 St. Clair Ave.