CLEVELAND — Anthony Body cycles almost everyday and that’s exactly what he was doing on June first when he was stopped by Cleveland police for the second time that day.
“Basically, I was profiled,” Body said. “I’m a downtown resident. I was on my way to work to bail some folks out of jail.”
At the time, downtown district was under a curfew that was put in place the same day Body was stopped and just hours after a Black Lives Matter protest turned violent. Only those who lived or worked downtown were permitted in the area. Body says he showed officers proof that in fact lived and worked downtown.
“Police officer hit a U-turn [and] questioned me. [I] showed him my work badge,” Body explained. “I showed him my driver’s license he snatched it out of my hands. I snatched it back and he basically said I didn’t listen so they took me to jail for 24 hours.”
Police ended up citing body twice for failure to comply.
“I’m happy it happened to me because I was sort of conditioned to it. It could have been more traumatic and a bad experience for someone else. You know growing up in the inner city, most Black males across the country have unlawful and unjust experiences with law enforcement so it was the usual, the norm and that’s unfortunate.”
Alan O’Connell, Body’s neighbor and president of Downtown Cleveland Residents, says the arrest should not have happened.
“I wonder if I was walking around if I would’ve been stopped, probably not, I mean I walked around a dozen times during the curfew and only got stopped once. He got stopped twice in one day. It’s not right,” O’Connell said. “He’s one of us. This is our neighbor. We have to show him that we have his back. They made a huge mistake and the city should, you know, fix this.”
Downtown Cleveland Residents sent a letter to the mayor requesting the charges against Body be dropped on Tuesday. As of Friday, O’Connell says they have not received a response. News 5 followed up with the city but did not receive a response on Friday. A spokesperson with the Cleveland police department declined to comment saying, “no comment on ongoing litigation.”
“I’m not surprised, but I am disappointed,” O’Connell said. “We’re definitely going to take much more of a social equity approach in terms of making sure that everyone downtown is treated equally and has the same opportunities.”
Councilman Kerry McCormack brought the incident up during the city’s public safety hearing last week and echoed requests to drop the charges.
“Immediately, I was concerned that he was treated differently or that he was treated unfairly,” McCormack said. “It’s unacceptable that things like that happen and also you know we need better communication so if something like that happens or if there’s a restriction or in or out access or heaven forbid another curfew, hopefully not, we need better communication to our residents about what the guidelines are so that they know what to expect.”
Body is now waiting for his day in court. He tells News 5 he appreciates the community’s support, but asks that support be directed to others in need.
“I appreciate it, but you know God has me so I can handle that but for the folks that don’t have a voice being able to speak up for them and being their power,” he said. “Patrols aren’t back to normal. The focus is still on downtown and not the neighborhoods. Why, when you have an uptick in violence? Down here we’re safe. Some windows got busted, but all those things you can replace. You can replace glass, you can replace property, but a human life and a traumatic experience people face from different violent crimes and so forth you can’t take those things back. There needs to be an emphasis put on that so we can prevent some of these issues that perpetuates he problems that we see on a daily basis.”