Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cleveland City Council passes Ordinance 928-15 repealing and enacting new Sec. 411.05 regarding Parades

The following legislation was heard and passed today by Cleveland City Council under a Committee of the Whole, and then under an emergency passage with a suspension of the rules.  The vote passed 12 yeas, 4 nays (B Cummins, TJ Dow, J Johnson, Z Reed), 1 absent (B Kazy).

The Mayor's Administration in committee gave testimony that the Department of Law sought to improve on the clarity of the laws concerning parades, as "parade" was not sufficiently defined in Section 411.05.  There were statements that since December as related to protests, there have been questions by attorneys and other interested parties about the laws pertaining parades, and that for the last month the Administrations has worked to improve and introduce this legislation.

Although the intentions as stated seem legitimate and the end result of the ordinance appears balanced, in particular the exceptions made for not requiring permits for use of sidewalks, crosswalks.. as well as impromptu demonstrations, providing at least an 8-hour prior notice of a parade.

Nonetheless, I voted no on the Ordinance due to the process by which the Administration did not include Council in any deliberations on the amendment prior to introduction, and that the committee process was not utilized in the Ordinance being introduced in a summer session and passed under emergency.

As I stated in Committee and in Council Chambers: Passage of such an ordinance, although intended to help clarify the laws regarding permits and regulations for "parades", when passed without substantive debate and discourse with Cleveland City Council, or members of the public and organizations that have shown active interest in participating in police reform, has an impact of increasing the divide between the City and residents and organizations working for reform.  It injurs and widens the gap in communications, relations, and trust.  And, from this point forward there must be a proactive stance from the Administration for inclusion, participation and transparency when seeking to amend the City's charter and ordinances.

In a discussion with Safety Director McGrath after the Committee he indicated a willingness to engage in direct dialogue with activists and members of organizations working towards police reform as well as a willingness to participate in future Council Committee meetings to further amend and improve ordinances such as 411.05.

The new Section 411.05 establishes definitions as well as exemptions (411.05.f.) in requirements for obtaining a permit for the following two types of parades or activities:

The full text of Ordinance 928-15 is as follows, in addition to the executive summary utilized in the Committee hearing.

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