Minneapolis video inspires Black Lives Matter Cleveland protest at the Second Police District
by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, July 2020) Seeing four police officers roughly treating a black man on the evening of May 25, 2020, Minneapolis teenager Darnella Frazier had the presence of mind to stop and record an iphone video of what she saw. Her actions will be cited throughout history as an example of the difference one person can make.
Frazier, age 17, told Minneapolis’ Star Tribune, “The world needed to see what I was seeing. Stuff like this happens in silence too many times.” The video she took showed a Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee against the neck of George Floyd limiting his ability to breath. While Floyd pleaded “I can’t breathe,” the other three officers failed to intervene. Frazier, who captured Floyd’s murder on video, said to the Star Tribune“My video proves what happened.”
The video helped to ignite protests against police brutality throughout the United States and on four continents around the globe, including a large protest on May 30th in downtown Cleveland. Black Lives Matter protests called for the re-examination of incidents where police actions have resulted in the deaths of black citizens.
A week after the May 30th Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Cleveland, Black Lives Matter Cleveland joined with family members of a Clevelander killed by an off-duty Cleveland Police Officer in the Second District to organize a protest to demand the re-examination of the April 9th, 2020 death of 22-year old Desmond Franklin. Franklin was killed by a bullet fired by an off duty Second District Police Officer Jose Garcia on Pearl Road in front of Riverside Cemetery. The June 6th Justice for Desmond Rally drew a crowd of about 2,000 people to 3481 Fulton Road in front of the Second District Police Station.
Members of Desmond Franklin’s family were in attendance at the rally. Desmond Franklin’s brother Quavon Franklin said, “The cop says he pulled a gun. Where is the proof?” He said there have been 57 days of silence following the death of his brother. He said Jose Garcia, who killed his brother was off duty. He said Garcia had no badge and no uniform when he “killed my brother.”
Protest leaders also spoke out about the militarization of the police force and called into question the $217 million Cleveland allocated this fiscal year for its police department while schools in Cleveland were being shuttered. There were shouts and signs at the rally bringing attention to the call to “Defund the Police.”
Another issue that organizers addressed was the investigation of police use of force. One speaker said, “Police cannot investigate police. We don’t trust them to investigate their own officers. They don’t even speak up when their officers are killing someone.” Other calls from organizers included a call to abolish “qualified immunity” and “collective bargaining agreements” between police and city government.
The mother of Angelo Miller, a 17-year-old who was shot and killed by a uniformed off-duty police officer in 2007, said there are 96 families in the City of Cleveland who have loved ones who have lost their lives due to the actions of Cleveland Police. Speaking of those that have died as the result of encounters with the police, the mother of Angelo Miller asked Clevelanders to “Show the mothers and fathers respect and learn their names.” She also called on members of those 96 families to join her and another parent who lost a child as a result of a police-killing who have been regular attendees at Cleveland Community Police Commission meetings set up as part of the Consent Decree between the United States Department of Justice and the City of Cleveland. “We need those 96 families to come to those meetings,” she said.
Organizers talked about the make-up of local Grand Juries consisting of largely suburbanites. They stressed the importance of voting as a means of changing laws and holding government accountable. They noted that in Ohio felons can vote. The organizers called upon those individuals not yet registered to vote to register to vote.
Organizers called upon those in the crowd to access information online about future actions via social media from Black Lives Matter Cleveland, the Cleveland Remembrance Page, NAACP Cleveland, and Stan the Lawyer.
As the crowd readied to march from the Second District Police Station to the place on Pearl Road where Desmond Franklin was killed in front of Riverside Cemetery, organizers urged the crowd to remember that “this is a peaceful protest. We are maintaining the peace as much as possible. If someone disrupts the peace, call them out.”
The organizers urging a peaceful protest reminded protesters that they were protesting for the families of Desmond Franklin, Tamir Rice and the 96 other families of Clevelanders who have lost a loved one to police violence. “It is important that we respect their wishes, and they wish peace,” said march organizers.
After an hour and a half of speeches and rallying in front of the Second District Police Station, as crowd began to get ready for the march organizers also urged them to get something to eat and drink before they departed. Organizers directed the crowd to drinks, snacks, water and sunscreen available in front of a nearby church.
Among the signs carried by protesters there were many messages. The family of Desmond Franklin held a sign saying “7/30/97 – 4/9/20 Desmond Franklin – My Life Mattered – Convict Jose Garcia”.
Other signs said, “Desmond Franklin Should be Alive – Black Lives Matter”, “Desmond Franklin – Killed by Off Duty Cop”, “My Son’s Keeper”, “Justice for Desmond”, “Desmond Franklin Deserves Justice, Arrest Jose Garcia”, “Desmond Franklin: Convict Jose Garcia – My Life Mattered”, “Authority Killing is Still Murder – Convict Jose Garcia”, “Black Lives Matter” “White Coats for Black Lives”, “Racism is a Public Health Crisis”, “Silence is Betrayal, Latinx for Black Lives Matter”, “No Justice, No Peace”, “Change the System”, “End Racism”, “Silence is Compliance”, “Justice for Desmond Taylor, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd”, “Defund the Police”, “It’s Protect & Serve, Not Choke & Kill”, “How many weren’t filmed?”, “Say Their Names …” “Black Lives Should Always Matter”, “Respect Black Lives, Like You Respect Black Culture”, “I Might Not be Black, But I know this is WACK, I Can’t Breathe, Everyone Heed”, “Silence is Violence”, “Abolish Q.I. and Police Unions”, ‘That’s Not a Chip on My Shoulder, That’s a Foot on My Neck”, “Murderer”, “End White Silence”, “Justice for Tony McDade”, “Say Her Name…”, “Reparations Now”, “Native Americans for Black Lives,” “Filipinos 4 Black Lives”, “Give them the Boot”, “Las Vidas Negras Importan”, “Being Black and Beautiful Means Nothing in this World, Unless we are Black and Powerful – John Henrik Clarke”, ‘We the People… are Tired, We are 400 Years of Mfn Tired”, “We all Bleed Red, Black Lives Matter”, “The Time Has Come to Rise Above Principles”, “What if Your Son Was Black?”, “Choose Love”, “Humanity Yes, White Supremacy No refusefascism.org”, “I Matter”, “Commitment, Not Convenience”, “Unlearn your Internalized Racism”, “End the Cycle – BLM”, “My Color is Not a Crime”, “Care About Black People Beyond Moments of Tragedy”, “Allies to the Front”, “Policing = (Racist) Failure of Social Imagination”, “White Supremacy is Terrorism, Enough is Enough” ,“Say His Name – George Floyd” , “Justice for George Floyd Now” ,“Justice for Desmond Franklin Now! Refusefascism.org #Out Now”, “End Police Brutality”, “Vocal About Looting, Silent About Murder”, “Abolish the Police” and “Defund and Demilitarize the Police.”