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East Cleveland citizens group calls for city Law Director Hemmons to step down

Posted at 10:44 PM, Feb 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-08 22:44:46-05

EAST CLEVELAND. OHIO — Concerned East Cleveland citizens and activist group Black on Black Inc., continue to demand city Law Director Willa Hemmons resign from office.

Residents have held protests calling for Hemmons to step down, pointing to what they called a poor track record when it comes to defending the cash strapped city against lawsuits.

Black on Black activist Art McKoy said he believes Hemmons did not represent the people of East Cleveland when she offered five Cleveland police officers pay a $5,000 fine instead of making them face charges in the 137-shots fatal police chase in 2012.

"She's the worst Law Director we ever had in East Cleveland, and we're tired of her selling us out," McKoy said. "She has a history of losing cases, selling out cases, and not representing the people of East Cleveland."

McKoy said East Cleveland is now facing paying out millions in a settlement in the wrongful conviction cases of Laurese Glover, Eugene Johnson and Derrick Wheatt.

Both McKoy and community activist Justyn Anderson believe Hemmons should have worked for a better settlement in that case and others.

Anderson said he believes Hemmons, who is working as an independent contractor, is being employed outside city law.

"I don't believe Willa Hemmons is qualified to be our Law Director," Anderson said. "The law, the revised code in our city charter states that you can not be an independent contractor inside of municipality."

Willa Hemmons would not give News 5 an on-camera interview, but simply said by phone that she works at the direction of Mayor Brandon King, is serving under city guidelines and believes she's done a good job in representing East Cleveland.

Several attempts were made to contact Mayor King to get his comments on the performance of his Law Director, but multiple calls over a 10-day period were not returned.

Meanwhile, city activists like Black on Black President Al Porter are urging Mayor King to take action.

"Mayor Brandon King has to do his job and let go of the cancer that is allowing money to be misspent, misrepresented by cases that she's lost in the millions," Porter said. "She has to go."