No malicious call to police on black people across the nation has been worse than the one made by Cleveland city councilman Basheer Jones.
Jones called police on over 200 black men, women and children who’d peacefully and legally-assembled at the African American History Museum where they paid $20 to hear Dr. Umar Johnson and motivational expert George Fraser speak at a fundraiser on May 18th.
The 3rd District police sergeant who showed up to shut down the event told the museum’s
director, Francis Caldwell, that the councilman claimed the building was unsafe but had no evidence to support the claim. Mayor Frank Jackson’s top aide, Valarie McCall, told EJB the city had no problem with the event and that building and fire officials had cleared it earlier in the week to operate. Jackson quickly assigned Chief of Police Calvin Williams to instruct cops to stand down from obeying any order from Jones they were seeking to enforce against the museum and the more than 200 black men, women and children inside.
Under no Ohio law does a member of the legislative branch of government have the authority to instruct cops to do anything. The cop sent to shut down the event had already been told “no” by Caldwell. He had returned to order reinforcements before learning through Williams that he had to stop.
“There is no issue with the city,” McCall told EJB. The only city official with an issue was Jones.
Jones’ calling police on over 200 black men, women and children outraged black Cleveland once it was reported by EJB. Retired political activist Carl Chaney wrote on EJB’s Facebook page that his phone “blew up” after news of Jones’ call to police became public.
“This was a very bad look and it made all of us in Cleveland look really bad,” Chaney wrote.
Brandee Varner wrote about the contradiction of a Morehouse graduate being opposed to the black museum.
“He went to Morehouse but doesn’t support an African-American museum? He goes to India, instead of reassuring residents on Wade Park and Hough [streets] that the recent violence has stopped. He needs to go over his priorities as council person; and if he can’t perform [the] job, give it to someone who will.”
Meisha McDowell ripped into Jones’ supporters.
“And what simple-ass fool wants to come to his defense now? That’s wrong from any possible aspect.”
While Jones’ call to police drew immediate criticism from the accountability-minded citizens of the city’s black community, Cleveland politicians were silent in condemning their colleague’s malicious act against his constituents. These were the same politicians who rallied around their own colleague, Ward 9 Councilman Kevin Conwell, after Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) police were called on him for speaking to a white female student on a public sidewalk two months earlier in March 2018. Conwell was detained and forced to produce identification for what amounted to a stop without any hint of probable cause in a city under a federal court to stop police from doing this shit.
Conwell publicly blasted CWRU leadership and police for the “walking while black” call. The same Conwell was visibly silent about Jones calling police on over 200 black men, women and children although the two are not friendly towards each other. So were the other vocal council members who thought the white woman’s call to police and their reaction was despicable.
Jones’ council president, Kevin Kelly, an Irish Catholic politician, said what happened to Conwell was “unjust.” Kelly’s reaction to criticism of Jones from the public was to ask council to support a charter change that extended the time it took the public to recall a member of council from six months to one year. Kelly is the same council president who obstructed the clerk of council from accepting 22,000 signatures from majority black citizens to prevent $88 million in public funds from being used to renovate the Quickens Loan Arena for Dan Gilbert.
Council’s silence about Jones’ calling police on constituents was expected. Every member of Cleveland city council has misused police and building officials to target people they perceive to be political enemies. Federal U.S. Housing & Urban Development (HUD) officials are currently investigating Cleveland community housing development organizations that have been getting block grant funds councilmembers have given themselves illegal authority to control.
It’s ironic that black Cleveland voters elected Carl Stokes as the first black mayor of a major American city in 1967. Stokes saw his mission as fighting “for” black people. Now voters are electing black politicians who fight against black people and treat them worse than the racists Stokes fought to protect them from 51 years ago.
Jones’ harshest critics have observed that he attended the Asian festival right after he called police on over 200 black men, women and children. He also bragged on his Facebook page that he was attending an international conference in India that had nothing to do with his duties as a member of an Ohio city council.
Jones has other issues besides his calling police on 200 black people. He campaigned for a seat on Cleveland city council while living in South Euclid with the mother of his three children. Over $40,000 was invested in this Muslim candidate’s campaign. Among his donors were the former chairman of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Tim Wuliger; and the founder of the Maltz Museum of Jewish History.
No black incumbent candidate raised money anywhere near the level of money as Jones; a fact that made him look like the brother Jews were paying to take out another brother. Jones beat incumbent council T.J. Dow by only 13 votes. Dow had battled Cleveland Clinic officials and Forest City Enterprises developers who wanted to displace as many black Hough residents near the hospital as possible. Dow pledged that there’d be a “Hough with us in it.”
Pissed off Ward 7 residents tested the recall waters when they pulled and started circulating petitions to remove him from office. Jones retaliated with a call to the office of 211 and asked the director to fire Fannie Lewis’ granddaughter, Allison Black.
Jones supporters think he “beat” a recall when circulators let the date expire without turning in what they collected. What Jones and his backers seemed not to understand was that every day recall circulators walked the ward they were carving away at his political base by sharing stories about how he was treating residents.
“No one can understand a black man calling police on over 200 black men, women and children who were exercising their 1st Amendment rights to assemble and listen to two respected national speakers,” said former Councilman Dow.