City of Cleveland Settles with Homeless Public Square Protesters

By Alex Grabtree

             In late April, the City of Cleveland agreed to drop the charges the five advocates who were arrested on Public Square for protesting the Mayor’s policy on homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk.

             Cleveland press officials did not return the calls from The Homeless Grapevine for comment.

             All the five protesters agreed to not sue the City in exchange for dropping the charges.  Each was represented by an attorney from the Cleveland Bar Association Homeless Committee and other community volunteers attorneys.

             The legal team was preparing to challenge the constitionality of laws, which the activists were arrested for violating.  The City of Cleveland has placed a large barrier to legally protest on Public Square.  Dave Campbell said, “Yes, it was a victory.  We did not have to go to trial and the case was dismissed.  I hope that I caused a lot of sleepless nights for the Mayor.”  Mayor White oversaw the arrest of the five protesters from his bunker on the second floor of the Renaissance Hotel at 3 a.m. “We settle because we were tired of going to court.  If we were wealthy we could have fought and sued the City,” Campbell said.

             The members of Food Not Bombs organized the demonstration on December 22, which was broken up by the huge display of police.  Dan Kerr, organizer of Food not bombs, said, “It was nice to get the case over with.” One member of Food Not bombs; Elena Tootell was one of the five arrested.

             Kerr considered the continued involvement of the city in this case was a subtle form of harassment.  He looked at this protest as putting pressure on the city to settle sweeping lawsuit.  These victories open up forums for advocacy.  Kerr and Food Not Bombs are looking into fixing up abandoned buildings, living wage ordinances, and setting up tents for homeless people.

  Copyright Homeless Grapevine Issue 42 May-June 2000