(CLEVELAND, OH, 2/26/2015) â€“ Dozens of people participated yesterday in a forum on bias-free policing with the Bias-Free Policing Work Group of the Cleveland Community Police Commission held at the ACLU of Ohio and co-coordinated by the Cleveland chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Cleveland) and area Muslim groups.
The meeting was intended to give the Muslim community a chance to provide input into the set of recommendations on bias-free policing currently being drafted by the Community Police Commission. The Commissionâ€™s final recommendations on bias-free policing are due to be presented to the City of Cleveland by March 7.
The Community Police Commission was established as part of the DOJ mandated reforms outlined in a sweeping 105-page long consent decree which was entered into by the City of Cleveland and the Department of Justice in May 2015 to resolve issues stemming from a lengthy investigation by the DOJ into the Cleveland Division of Police after the killing of two unarmed African Americans who were shot 137 times by police after a high speed chase involving more than 60 police cars. The DOJ investigation found that the Cleveland Division of Police has for years engaged in a pattern and practice of unconstitutional policing.
â€œThe goal of the meeting was to provide a forum for members of the Muslim community to express their concerns and provide specific recommendations to help improve police-community relations and to ensure the bias-free delivery of police services to all members of the public, including the Muslim community,â€ said Dr. Ahmad Banna, president of CAIR-Cleveland.
The forum, which was facilitated by former Lieutenant Governor of Ohio Lee Fisher, touched on a variety of issues such as the history of policing in the Black community, the marginalization of the Muslim community by law enforcement elites; police misconduct and accountability; issues with the police unions and arbitration; Islamophobia and biased training; racial and religious profiling; unlawful surveillance and ethnic mapping of communities of color; language access issues; civil rights issues related to the hijab (Islamic head covering) for Muslim women; implicit bias and cultural training; community outreach and engagement strategies and other issues.
Representatives of area mosques and Muslim groups were present, including: First Cleveland Mosque; Uqbah Mosque Foundation; Masjid Rasoul Allah; Masjid Bilal; Masjid Mumin; the Islamic Center of Cleveland; Peace in the Hood; the Task Force for Community Mobilization; the Greater Cleveland Shura Council and others. Dozens of civil rights activists and police accountability activists also attended in support.
Members of the Community Police Commission Bias-Free Policing Working Group in attendance included: Lee Fisher, Chair of the Bias-Free Policing Work Group; Dr. Rhonda Williams and Mario Clopton, Commission Co-Chairs; Kathleen Clegg; Amanda King; Dr. Ronnie Dunn; Attorney James Hardiman; and Zachery Williams. Absent were: Det. Steve Loomis, President of the Cleveland Police Patrolmanâ€™s Association; Det. Lynn Hampton, President of the Black Shield; Anthony Body; Craig Boise; and Rev. Yvonne Conner.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT CAIR-Cleveland Executive Director Julia A. Shearson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 216.830.2247 or 216.440.2247