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Women's March Cleveland, Black activists say Black Cleveland women were left out of discussions on abortion ballot initiative in Ohio by groups like Planned-Parenthood out of Columbus and Pro Choice Ohio that routinely subordinate activists and Blacks

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Photo by photographer David Petkiewicz of Cleveland.com and the Cleveland Plain Dealer Newspaper.

Clevelandurbannews.com and Kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com the most read Black digital newspaper and blog in Ohio and in the Midwest Tel: (216) 659-0473. Email:editor@clevelandurbannews.com.

CLEVELAND, Ohio-Women's March Cleveland and several other Black led Cleveland activist groups are complaining that a newly formed coalition of women's groups in Ohio dubbed Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom that is being led by the Ohio ACLU, Planned Parenthood Ohio and Pro Choice Ohio and is contemplating a statewide ballot initiative for the November 2023 ballot to seek to enshrine the legal right to an abortion into the Ohio Constitution does not include grassroots activist groups of Ohio and any Black led women's groups of Cleveland or Northeast Ohio.

These Black women's groups of Cleveland that community activists say were systematically excluded include Women's March Cleveland, the Laura Cowan Foundation, Black Women's PAC of Ohio and Greater Cleveland, Black Women's  Army of Cleveland  and the National Congress of Black Women Greater Cleveland Chapter

A second largely White divisive group with a handful of active members that was formed this past summer and has no organizing experience whatsoever is competing with the aforementioned coalition for a possible ballot initiative on abortion, namely the Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights, and Black women doctors are not at the helm in their group, community activists say.

"That is ridiculous," said activist and domestic violence and reproductive rights advocate Laura Cowan, a CNN Hero who leads the Cleveland- based women's rights group the Laura Cowan Foundation. "Why are you not including Black women leaders and grassroots activists of Cleveland regarding reproductive rights and other women's rights that we have been fighting for and we as Black women are in the majority in Cleveland.”

Women's March Cleveland said that groups like the Columbus-based Planned-Parenthood Ohio and Pro Choice Ohio that are exclusive and lack diversity in terms of key decision making create conflict and divisiveness in the women's movement and that a ballot initiative on abortion in Ohio is a difficult task even when supporters are unified across racial and ethic lines.

"They will likely be ineffective in passing a ballot initiative in the red state of Ohio to enshrine the legal right to an abortion in the Ohio Constitution after Republicans, via the general election held in November, won every statewide office, including three seats up for grabs on the Ohio Supreme Court," said Kathy Wray Coleman, a Black Cleveland activist and local organizer who leads Women's March Cleveland, the largest women's rights group in Northeast Ohio. "And subordinating grassroots activists and Black women leaders in a majority Black major American city such as Cleveland will make it even harder. "

Alfred Porter Jr, president of Black on Black Crime Inc. and a community organizer who has helped Coleman organize women's marches in Cleveland for the last couple of years, said that "it is entirely unfair to leave out Black women leaders of Cleveland and Women's March Cleveland organizers and certainly unfair to kick off 2023 as if it were 1953 in terms of the treatment or mistreatment of Black women."

Coleman has led every major Women's March Cleveland march in Cleveland under the umbrella of Women's March Cleveland since 2018, including 2,500 people at market square park on Oct 2, 2021 for a march on reproductive rights.. She urges Ohio's mainstream media to investigate possible racism and White supremacy in the women's movement in Ohio as it relates to women of color, and Black women in particular, a problem, she says, that goes back decades, if not longer.  She says that it is always difficult to get  Pro Choice Ohio and Planned Parenthood of Ohio to embrace inclusiveness with respect to local Black women of Cleveland who fight against both sexism and racism. Also, says Coleman, Planned-Parenthood Ohio and Pro Choice Ohio, both of which are funded in part by government interests, often use Black women in secondary roles with their organizations to cover up the obvious prejudice and unfairness by their groups relative to Black women and other women of color.

"We offer an olive branch to these groups in terms of a coming together for all women in Ohio, whether its reproductive rights, Civil Rights, violence against women or racial equality issues," Coleman said. She added that the exclusive groups pushing the ballot initiative in Ohio to enshrine abortion into the constitution thus far can hardly get 20 people to a protest more less millions to back a ballot initiative on abortion.

"Women's March Cleveland," said Coleman "has been in the trenches on abortion access and reproductive and civil rights since the organization was established in 2017."

The U.S. Supreme Court, on June 24, 2022, reversed Roe v Wade in a case captioned Jackson vs Mississippi Health Organization and relegated the authority to either restrict or outlaw abortion to the respective state legislatures, though abortion is still currently legal in Ohio with limitations. Roe v Wade is the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal nationwide.

A state law that bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy took effect in Ohio when Roe v Wade was overturned but is temporarily on hold per a court ruling by a Hamilton County judge. That new state law, commonly referred to as the heartbeat bill, makes abortion illegal in Ohio once a fetal heart beat is detected, which is as early as six weeks, opponents of the bill argue.

Ohio’s  GOP seasoned governor, Mike DeWine, a former U.S. senator and state attorney general, has vowed to do everything within his power to ensure that Ohio's Republican-dominated state legislature outlaws abortion in Ohio.

Clevelandurbannews.com and Kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com the most read Black digital newspaper and blog in Ohio and in the Midwest Tel: (216) 659-0473. Email: editor@clevelandurbannews.com. We interviewed former president Barack Obama one-on-one when he was campaigning for president. As to the Obama interview, CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM, OHIO'S LEADER IN BLACK DIGITAL NEWS.


Last Updated on Monday, 02 January 2023 08:43

Cuyahoga County judge's son sentenced in Cleveland for murdering his wife...The judge spoke at sentencing and told her son that 'I am proud of everything that you have done'....By Clevelandurbannews.com, Ohio's Black digital news leader

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Pictured is Omnisun Azali

Clevelandurbannews.com and Kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com the most read Black digital newspaper and blog in Ohio and in the Midwest Tel: (216) 659-0473. Email: editor@clevelandurbannews.com

By Kathy Wray Coleman, associate publisher, editor-in-chief

CLEVELAND, Ohio - The son of a Black Cuyahoga County  Court of Common Pleas judge was sentenced Wednesday for murdering his wife in May of 2021 in a case that has drawn national attention.

 

Visiting and retired Judge Patricia Cosgrove sentenced Ominsun Azali, 36 of Euclid who was indicted on several felony charges and faced 15-years to life on the murder conviction alone, to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 21 years for shooting and killing his wife, Mzaka Azali. She took the liberty to chastise him before she sentenced him to time behind bars, saying he had taken the life of a young mother and wife unnecessarily.

 

Following a two week long trial a  Cuyahoga County common pleas jury at the justice center in downtown Cleveland on Friday found Azali guilty of murder, felonious assault, domestic violence and several other felony charges, all but aggravated murder, which requires a finding of prior intent. The jury deliberated for 10 hours before reaching its stinging verdict.

 

Azali appeared for sentencing in casual attire. He was brought up to the court from the county jail where he has been held in custody since last week's jury convictions. Prior to that he had been free after posting 10 percent of a $900,000 bond after arraignment in 2021.

 

The murder occurred at the couple's home in Euclid in the 100 block of E. 265th Street on May 26, 2021. A lower to middle class Cleveland suburb of nearly 50,000 people, the city of Euclid is roughly 62 percent Black.

 

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner ruled  Mwaka's  death a homicide.

 

Prosecutors said little at sentencing and instead pointed to his wife's sister, Rebecca Tawana, who told the visiting  judge via Zoom that her family was heartbroken over her sister's death and that their mother was "shattered." She added that her sister was a loving mother and said "It wasn't supposed to be like this."

 

The dead woman's family spoke to the court by Zoom because they live overseas.


The defendant's mother, Common Pleas Judge Cassandra Collier Williams, also spoke. She reiterated that her son acted in self defense and then turned and looked at her son and said "I am proud of everything that you have done." Her son, the defendant, did not speak  likely, say sources, because his attorneys have vowed to appeal. A source said that Collier -Williams, a likable judge, did everything she could do within reason to try to save the life of her son, whom she told the court she loved dearly, as well as his family. Domestic violence advocates say Azali is a coward, and should have just walked away. His hired attorneys said at trial that his troubled wife gave him no alternative but to shoot and kill her in self defense.

 

With his mother's support, Azali claimed his innocence from the very beginning He testified at trial that he shot his African wife three times in the head in self-defense because she pointed a gun at him and that prior to doing that she had shot three times in the house with the same gun. He told jurors that his wife had argued with him and had punched him in the face before he shot and killed her.

 

He continued testifying and said that after killing his wife he contacted his mother by phone rather than initially calling police and then left the home with the couple’s two children and drove to her home. The judge later called 9-1-1 and then road with him back to the couple's Euclid home where police met them and arrested him on murder and other charges. He was later indicted by a county grand jury.

 

The office of Summit County Prosecutor Sherry Belwin- Walsh, a tough and seasoned prosecutor, prosecuted the case for the state in place of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Mike O'Malley because Collier-Williams is a Cuyahoga County judge. Also, the judge's colleagues on the bench refused to hear the case, saying, like O'Malley, that it would be a conflict of interest.

 

Judge Cosgrove, the retired visiting judge who presided over the case, was assigned by the Ohio Supreme Court after Collier-Williams' judicial colleagues bowed out.

 

The case was intriguing from the start because it involved murder charges against the son of a sitting judge.

 

Defense counsel Jeffery Saffold, Common Pleas Judge Shirley Strickland-Saffold’s son who won election to the common pleas bench in November, said in opening statements at trial that the shooting was in self-defense and that Mwaka Azali was reaching for a pistol when Omnisun Azali shot her with his own gun. Saffold was consulted as a potential defense counsel before the judge's son was even charged and arrested by Euclid police, prosecutors said at trial, though that is not, in isolation, illegal.

 

Authorities found two guns in the home where the murder occurred, including a .380 caliber handgun next to Mwaka Azali’s body, the latter gun of which had her DNA on the trigger, investigators said at trial.

 

Prosecutors argued at trial that Mwaka Azali’s wounds and two bullet holes found in the home were inconsistent with self-defense and accused the judge, who took the stand at trial, of a cover-up of her son’s murder of his wife. Prosecutors  told jurors that the judge called attorney Saffold, who was later hired as defense counsel, and then waited 15 minutes to call 9-1-1 after her son and the couple's children arrived at her home after the murder. The judge, however, kept her composure under intense questioning from prosecutors, and she testified that she acted in her best judgment.

 

Police found bullet holes in the wall that were fired from Mwaka Azali’s .380-caliber pistol, which was found on the ottoman next to her body on the couch. But that was not enough for the jury to acquit the judge’ s son, particularly after prosecutors called the couple's two children, an eight-year-old son and nine year-old daughter, to the stand at trial and the son testified that he saw his father point the gun at his mother and that his mother did not have a gun. In fact, the testimony of the judge’s grandson was the smoking gun that broke the case wide open, sources said after trial.

Neither of the defendant's two children witnessed the tragic murder of their mother, who struggled with mental health issues, defense counsel said at trial.

Domestic violence relative to the couple was no secret, sources said.

Collier-Williams is currently one of three Black judges on the 34-member largely White general division common pleas bench in Cuyahoga County, Ohio's second largest of its 88 counties and a county that includes the majority Black city of Cleveland and is a Democratic stronghold.

 

By Kathy Wray Coleman, associate publisher, editor-in-chief (Coleman is a former biology teacher and a seasoned Black journalist, and an investigative, legal, scientific, and political reporter who trained for 17 years at the Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio).

Clevelandurbannews.com and Kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com the most read Black digital newspaper and blog in Ohio and in the Midwest Tel: (216) 659-0473. Email: editor@clevelandurbannews.com. We interviewed former president Barack Obama one-on-one when he was campaigning for president. As to the Obama interview, CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM, OHIO'S LEADER IN BLACK DIGITAL NEWS.

 

Last Updated on Friday, 30 December 2022 17:50

U.S. Supreme Court to hear arguments to President Biden's student loan debt forgiveness program in two separate cases as the program remains blocked via two separate appeals court injunctions....By Clevelanurbannews.com, Ohio's Black digital news leader

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Clevelandurbannews.com and Kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com the most read Black digital newspaper and blog in Ohio and in the Midwest Tel: (216) 659-0473. Email: editor@clevelandurbannews.com.

By Kathy Wray Coleman, associate publisher, editor-in-chief

WASHINGTON, D.C. –After agreeing to hear arguments in a case earlier this month the U.S. Supreme Court this week agreed to hear arguments in a second case that challenges President Joe Biden's executive order that relieves federal student loan debt for millions of Americans for up to $20,000 per eligible person.

 

Some 16 million people have already been approved for the federal student loan forgiveness but no debt is currently allowed to be canceled as litigation ensues over the controversial matter. The president, however, has extended the federal government’s pause on student loan repayments during the pandemic until June of next year.

 

Both of the aforementioned cases before the Supreme Court will be heard at once in February of next year and both challenge the constitutionality of the student loan forgiveness program as well as the statutory authority of the president and the Department of Education in implementing it in the absence of duly adopted congressional legislation. Also at play are two separate appeals court injunctions issued in the cases that block implementation of the program nationwide, though neither of the trial courts where the cases originated, one in Texas and the other in the state of Missouri, ruled on the merits of the case.

 

In the second case two Texas plaintiffs, Myra Brown and Alexander Taylor, challenged the legality of the program and also filed a request for an injunction as the lawsuit made its way through the courts. The trial court granted the injunction and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals out of New Orleans upheld that ruling on appeal.

The first case was brought by attorneys general for Missouri and five other states, namely Nebraska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina  A federal judge, more specifically a President George W. Bush appointee, ruled for President Biden and the federal government and against the six states that brought the lawsuit saying that the states at issue did not have legal standing to bring the litigation. That court did not block the program but the Eighth Circuit Court of appeals, located in St, Louis, Missouri, overruled the court's denial of the injunction request on appeal.

The attorneys general for the six-states plaintiffs argued at the trial court level and on appeal that the program is government overreach and an abuse of the president's authority, and that it takes away from the respective states tax base and puts the entities that finance the loans and affiliated state loan recipients at risk.

A Democrat who ousted former president Donald Trump from the White House via a contentious presidential election in 2020, the president publicly announced his celebrated student loan forgiveness program, which is only applicable to federal student loans, in August from the White House, saying "I made that commitment and I am honoring it today."

 

The long awaited initiative, which liberal critics say is hardly enough to address the country's student loan debt during a debilitating economy, would essentially cancel up to $10,000 of qualifying federal student loan debt and $20,000 for those who received Pell Grants. Also to qualify, an individual's annual  income must be $125,000 or less  with married couples capped at $250,000.

The initiative would eliminate applicable non-consolidated federal student loans for up to 32% or 14.6 million borrowers who held less than $10,000 in debt as of the end of last month It  will also erase at least half of the student loan debt held by the 20.5% of borrowers who owe between $10,000 and $20,000, and will serve to  reduce $20,000 to $40,000 owed by another 21.4% of borrowers.

More than 40 million Americans are in student loan debt for seeking an education, owing a cumulative $1.7 trillion, much of it from high government interest rates, penalties and exorbitant collection fees that hurt struggling single mothers, poor people and people of color in a disproportionate fashion.


The NAACP and some Black leaders say the loan forgiveness program does not go far enough and that the president broke a campaign promise to Black voters to forgive more federal student loan debt than the allotted $20,000 or less per individual he has approved for the current plan, a plan that will cost the federal government upwards of an estimated $380 billion.

 

Republicans in Congress, fueled by conservative mainstream media pundits, say that Biden is fiscally irresponsible and too generous with taxpayer money, and that it is not the role of the federal government to forgive its high-price student loans with “handouts.” Republicans call the initiative "a $300 billion student loan bailout."

By Kathy Wray Coleman, associate publisher, editor-in-chief (Coleman is a former biology teacher and a seasoned Black journalist, and an investigative, legal, scientific, and political reporter who trained for 17 years at the Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio).

Clevelandurbannews.com and Kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com the most read Black digital newspaper and blog in Ohio and in the Midwest Tel: (216) 659-0473. Email: editor@clevelandurbannews.com. We interviewed former president Barack Obama one-on-one when he was campaigning for president. As to the Obama interview, CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM, OHIO'S LEADER IN BLACK DIGITAL NEWS.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 December 2022 17:00

Shaker Heights, Ohio Mayor David Weiss welcomes new Ashley Stewart plus-size clothing store to the city via a ribbon cutting....Shaker Heights is a diverse Cleveland suburb ...By Clevelandurbannews.com, Ohio's Black digital news leader

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Clevelandurbannews.com and Kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com

By Kathy Wray Coleman, editor

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE PHOTO-STREAM AND ARTICLE AT

KATHYWRAYCOLEMANONLINENEWSBLOG.COM

SHAKER HTS, Ohio - Ashley Stewart, the leading plus-size American clothing retailer for women and lifestyle brand that caters to African-American women size 10 to 36, on Saturday announced the opening of its Shaker Hts, Ohio store, which is located in the Shaker Town Centre at Chagrin Blvd and Lee Road near the city of Cleveland border.

Mayor David E. Weiss commemorated the occasion with an official ribbon cutting and was joined at the helm by  store sales manager Nikeia Johnson, assistant store manager Charnell Maxwell, Ashley Stewart district manager Katrice Collins, and digital content creator Tiffany Flamer, who hosted the event.  Teona Nickson, store sales manager for the Ashley Stewart location in Cleveland Hts and Shanita Ivy, store manager for the Southgate Shopping Center store in Maple Hts, were also on hand. All three of the store sales managers at the three Northeast Ohio locations are Black, as is the district manager

"We are actually thrilled to have you in our community, " said Mayor Weiss of the new Ashley Stewart store in his community prior to cutting the ribbon. "It bridges the tax base and causes people to come to our community."

Weiss also said that it increases diversity and that Shaker Hts, a prominent Cleveland suburb with a population of about 27,000 people that is roughly 37 percent Black, is one of the most "diverse communities in the region and in the country."

 

Johnson said that as sales store sales manager she is excited to help lead the initiative with Ashley Stewart to provide the hottest fashions for women sizes 10 to 36 as well as professional attire and other apparel such as jeans and casual selections.

 

Located near Heinen's Fine Foods, the Shaker Hts store represents the first store the New jersey-based clothing chain has opened since unveiling its new brand logo and website this past summer. It is one of  some 82 Ashley Stewart stores nationwide, five of them in Ohio and three in Northeast Ohio.

 

The new store in Shaker Hts is a relocation  from the store in the Lee- Harvard neighborhood  in Cleveland's Ward 1. The other two Northeast Ohio stores are at Severance Town Center and Southgate Shopping Center.


Saturday's grand opening was well-received as customers enjoyed a dance competition and Ashley Stewart trivia with the winners receiving gift cards. Local vendors included Tyeshia Davis of Tally Sweets, who provided sweet treats, and Love, Key of Love, Key Luxury Lashes, who applied free lash applications to customers with a purchase.

 

District manager Katrice Collins and hist Tiffany Flamer presented a donation check to Dress for Success Cleveland CEO Melony Butler on behalf of Ashley Stewart.

Butler was appreciative of the contribution and said that her organization welcomes the new location, and what Ashley Stewart brings to the greater Cleveland area for women, and economically. Others agreed.

 

"Black women are phenomenal women and as we continue to thrive and dress for success quality retailers like Ashley Stewart that have affordable prices help us do just that," said Melinda Davis, a volunteer with Dress for Success Cleveland who attended Saturday's event and said she is thrilled with the new store in Shaker Hts., which she says is modern and chic.

 

The plus-size women’s apparel market in the U.S. is an estimated $30.7 billion business serving millions of women, according to Coresight Research, and Ashley Stewart, led by CEO Gary Sheinbaum, the former CEO of Tommy Hilfiger who was named CEO in 2021, remains in the forefront in that market.

 

Clevelandurbannews.com and Kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com the most read Black digital newspaper and blog in Ohio and in the Midwest Tel: (216) 659-0473. Email: editor@clevelandurbannews.com. We interviewed former president Barack Obama one-on-one when he was campaigning for president. As to the Obama interview, CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM, OHIO'S LEADER IN BLACK DIGITAL NEWS.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 January 2023 19:31

Cuyahoga County jury in Cleveland finds judge's son guilty of murdering his wife....The son's son testified at trial and was the smoking gun in the case....Clevelandurbannews.com and Kathywraycolemanonlinnewsblog.com, Ohio's Black digital news leader

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Pictured is Omnisun Azali

Clevelandurbannews.com and Kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com Tel: 216-659-0473 Email: editor@cleve;andurbannews.com

By Kathy Wray Coleman, associate publisher, editor-in-chief

 

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Following a two week trial before visiting and retired judge Patricia Cosgrove and after jury deliberations that began Thursday morning and lasted 10 hours, a  Cuyahoga County common pleas jury in Cleveland, Ohio on Friday found the son of a Black common pleas judge guilty of killing his wife in May of last year and of several other charges

 

Omnisun Azali, 36 and of Euclid, faces 15-years to life on the murder conviction alone when he is sentenced on Dec. 14.

 

An appeal is likely, sources said Friday.

 

A county grand jury previously indicted Azali on aggravated murder, murder, felonious assault, and several other felony charges. The common pleas jury, on Friday, convicted him of all but the aggravated murder charge, finding that the murder was not calculated or pursued with prior intent. He had been free after posting 10 percent of a $900,000 bond after arraignment and was handcuffed and taken into custody after the jury convictions.

 

The county medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.


Azali testified at trial that he shot his wife, Mwaka Azali, three times in the head in self-defense because she pointed a gun at him and that prior to doing that she had shot three times in the house with the same gun. He told jurors that his wife had argued with him and had punched him in the face before he shot and killed her.

 

He continued testifying and said that after killing his wife he contacted his mother by phone rather than initially calling police and then left the home with the couple’s two children and drove to the home of his mother, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams. She later called 9-1-1 and then road with him back to the couple's Euclid home where police met them and arrested him on murder and other charges. He was later indicted by a county grand jury.

 

The office of Summit County Prosecutor Sherry Belwin- Walsh prosecuted the case for the state in place of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Mike O'Malley because Collier-Williams is a Cuyahoga County judge. Also, the judge's colleagues on the bench refused to hear the case, saying, like O'Malley, that it would be a conflict of interest.

 

Judge Cosgrove, the retired visiting judge who presided over the case, was assigned by the Ohio Supreme Court after Collier-Williams' judicial colleagues bowed out.

 

The case was intriguing from the start because it involved murder charges against the son of a sitting judge.

 

Defense counsel Jeffery Saffold, Common Pleas Judge Shirley Strickland-Saffold’s son who won election to the common pleas bench in November, said in opening statements that the shooting was in self-defense and that Mwaka Azali was reaching for a pistol when Omnisun Azali shot her with his own gun. Saffold was hired as a potential defense counsel before the judge's son was even charged and arrested by Euclid police, prosecutors said at trial, though that is not, in isolation, illegal.


Authorities found two guns in the home where the murder occurred, including a .380 caliber handgun next to Mwaka Azali’s body, the latter gun of which had her DNA on the trigger, investigators said at trial.

 

Prosecutors argued at trial that Mwaka Azali’s wounds and two bullet holes found in the home were inconsistent with self-defense and accused the judge, who took the stand at trial, of a cover-up of her son’s murder of his wife. Prosecutors told jurors that the judge called attorney Saffold, who later enter an appearance in the case for the defendant, and then waited 15 minutes to call 9-1-1 after her son and the couple's children arrived at her home after the murder. The judge, however, kept her composure under intense questioning from prosecutors and testified that she acted in her best judgment.

 

Police found bullet holes in the wall that were fired from Mwaka Azali’s .380-caliber pistol, which was found on the ottoman next to her body on the couch. But that was not enough for the jury to acquit the judge’ s son, particularly after prosecutors called the couple's two children, an eight-year-old son and nine year-old daughter, to the stand at trial and the son testified that he saw his father point the gun at his mother and that his mother did not have a gun. In fact, the testimony of the judge’s grandson was the smoking gun that broke the case wide open, sources said after trial.

Neither of the defendant's two young children witnessed the tragic murder their mother, who struggled with mental health issues, defense counsel said at trial.

Domestic violence relative to the couple was no secret, sources said

Collier-Williams is currently one of three Black judges on the 34-member largely White general division common pleas bench in Cuyahoga County, Ohio's' second largest of its 88 counties and a county that includes the majority Black city of Cleveland and is a Democratic stronghold.

By Kathy Wray Coleman, associate publisher, editor-in-chief (Coleman is a former biology teacher and a seasoned Black journalist, and an investigative, legal, scientific, and political reporter who trained for 17 years at the Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio).

Clevelandurbannews.com and Kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com the most read Black digital newspaper and blog in Ohio and in the Midwest Tel: (216) 659-0473. Email: editor@clevelandurbannews.com. We interviewed former president Barack Obama one-on-one when he was campaigning for president. As to the Obama interview, CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM, OHIO'S LEADER IN BLACK DIGITAL NEWS.

Last Updated on Friday, 30 December 2022 17:51

Mayor Justin Bibb names his 5 Cleveland community police district commanders a day after city council approves the Community Police Commission members chosen by Bibb and city council amid controversy....None of the police commander appointments are women

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Clevelandurbannews.com and Kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com the most read Black digital newspaper and blog in Ohio and in the Midwest Tel: (216) 659-0473. Email: editor@clevelandurbannews.com

 

CLEVELAND, Ohio-Cleveland Mayor Justin M. Bibb, Public Safety Director Karrie D. Howard and Police Chief Wayne Drummond on Tuesday announced changes to the Cleveland Division of Police command staff, including naming the mayor's selected five community police district commanders, two of whom replace two demoted police district commanders who were appointed by the mayor's predecessor, former mayor Frank Jackson. Both Jackson and Bibb are Black.

None of the announced police department leadership appointments include women.

The new police district commanders, who earn roughly $120,000 annually, and other police leaders were sworn in Tuesday afternoon.

The command changes took effect immediately, Mayor Bibb, 35, said in a press release on Tuesday.

"We are pleased to appoint these outstanding leaders to the office of the Division of Police and to further the mayor's vision for modern policing," Public Safety Director Howard said at the swearing in at city hall "Each individual appointed today is committed to the mission of the city of Cleveland and brings a wealth of experience to the command team."

Police Chief Drummond added, "Every staffing change we make is strategic and purposeful. The Division of Police is focused on proactive efforts to keep our residents and our neighborhoods safe."

The city of Cleveland remains a party to a court-monitored consent decree for police reforms along with the U.S. Department of Justice that was implemented in 2015 behind an entourage of police complaints and the police killing deaths of several unarmed Blacks, including "137 shots" victims Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams in 2012, and 12-year old Tamir Rice and 38-year old Tanisha Anderson in 2014. The city and the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association reached a collective bargaining agreement this summer that provides for an unprecedented 11 percent raise by 2024 for rank-and-file police officers.

So who got promoted and who got demoted by Mayor Bibb's administration regarding the five community police district commanders?

In short, former fifth district commander Sammy Morris is now deputy police chief of field operations over all five police districts, and the respective commanders over those five districts as of Tuesday are Jarrod Schlacht (District 1), Thomas Stacho (District 2), Robert Tucker (District 3), Maurice Brown (District 4), and Johnny Johnson (District 5)

Schlacht replaces demoted former first district commander Michael Butler, Stacho remains on as second district commander, and Tucker replaces former third district commander Dorothy Todd, now deputy police chief and second in command under Chief Drummond. A former lieutenant, Brown replaces the reassigned former fourth district commander Brian Kuntz, now an assistant to Chief Drummond, and Johnson replaces Morris to lead the fifth district.

Johnson and Brown are Black.

It really was not a shakeup other than the demotion of former third district commander Brian Kuntz, who is White, from a line position as a police district commander to a staff position as commander and assistant to the police chief, which follows the demotion last week of former first district commander Michael Butler to lieutenant, Butler also White.

Morris was the only Black district commander during Jackson's fourth term and last year as mayor, Jackson, 75 and the city's longest serving mayor, opting not to seek reelection last year and instead retiring after 16 years as mayor. While the five district community police district commanders remain majority White after Tuesday,  two of them are now Black, commanders Johnson and Brown.

The Cleveland Division of Police is largely White and and its patrol officers are overwhelmingly White. Cleveland is a largely Black major American city of some 372,000 people and most of the residents live below the poverty line.

A former banker and non-profit executive who interned when he was younger under Barack Obama when Obama was junior U.S. senator, Bibb officially became mayor in January of this year after winning a nonpartisan runoff election in November of 2021 over then city council president Kevin Kelley, a Frank Jackson ally and judge-elect whom he beat with 63 percent of the vote, though he had never held public office before.

As to the city's five aforementioned police district commanders and the communities they serve, Cleveland Police District 1 includes the neighborhoods of Park-Fulton, Edgewater, Tremont, Ohio City, Gordon Square and Lorain Denison., District 2 Park-Fulton, Edgewater, Tremont, Ohio City, Gordon Square and Lorain Denison and District 3, downtown, Central, Hough, Fairfax and Little Italy. The Fourth District  encompasses Buckeye-Shaker, Larchmere, Lee-Harvard, Slavic Village, Mt. Pleasant,and Warner-Turney, and Union-Miles neighborhoods, and the fifth district, Collinwood, Glenville, Lakeshore and Waterloo.

The police departmental changes come as the new mayor is crafting his cabinet and administration and making other changes and were issued just a day after city council, on Monday approved a 13-member commission selected by the mayor and city council under ballot police reform initiative Issue 24. Issue 24 is a charter amendment crafted by family members of people killed by police and pushed by the Ohio ACLU. It was approved last year by Cleveland voters and created a 13-member civilian police oversight review dubbed the Cleveland Community Police Commission. The mayor appoints 10 commission members per the charter change and city council, led by Council President Blaine Griffin, who is Black, approves the other three

The community police commission is not new but what is different under Issue 24 is the broadened power it has to investigate police conduct and to recommend policy changes and recommend police discipline, not withstanding any applicable or conflicting provisions of the police union's collective bargaining agreement that might negate such authority.

Those commission appointments, which were approved by city council at its regular meeting on Monday,  have been steeped in controversy as the framers of Issue 24 and Black Lives Matter say grassroots activists in the trenches of police reform matters and Black victims of crime were left off the commission in place of suburbanites, and some corporate types. They also say that victims of excessive force and previously incarcerated people who have changed their live around were excluded.

Issue 24 framers further complain that the commission appointments, all of them somehow made by the mayor and city hall under the charter amendment changes, do not comply with the requirements of the charter relative to community involvement and the required backgrounds of the 13 largely Black commission members, something the mayor and city law director deny.

Members of the new community police commission do include a few community advocates and were sworn in at city hall Monday evening. They are Dr. John Adams, Shandra Benito, James M. Chura, Charles Donaldson Jr., Pastor Kyle Earley, Alana Garrett-Ferguson, Cait Kennedy, and Gregory Reaves, Jan Ridgeway, Piet van Lier, Audrianna Rodriguez, Teri Wang, and Sharena Zayed. Several of the members do not even reside in the city and one of them lives in Berea.

The mayor calls the new police community commission diverse and a reflection of the community and said that Black Lives Matter and some of the framers of Issue 24 who are upset over the appointments to the commission and who picketed him on city hall steps last month as he made the announcement and introduced commission members to the media had input regarding the selection process.

The mayor said that their picket was poorly organized.

"They had four people," Mayor Bibb said in a subsequent television interview in response to the  protest, though the mayor actually campaigned for Issue 24 when he was running for mayor and promised community inclusiveness and police accountability if elected.

Activists in general say that they were not included as to the crafting of the language of Issue 24 by the framers of the successful ballot initiative.

"They did not include us at all," said activist Alfred Porter Jr, president of Black on Black Crime Inc.

Those activists who say they were left out of the planning of Issue 24 say that they question why all 13 commission appointments come from city hall and are not inclusive of appointments from groups like the NAACP and ACLU. They said the charter amendment crafted by Cleveland attorney Subodh Chandra, a former law director under former mayor Jane Campbell who settled the Tamir Rice case for $6 million in 2016, rather than a seasoned Civil Rights attorney, is not community oriented, and that Black Cleveland activists and the Black community got the shaft. A reputable Civil rights attorney, say community activists, would have likely been more inclined to draft charter amendment language that protected activists and the Black community in terms of community inclusiveness and other police reform measures.

Clevelandurbannews.com and Kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com the most read Black digital newspaper and blog in Ohio and in the Midwest Tel: (216) 659-0473. Email: editor@clevelandurbannews.com. We interviewed former president Barack Obama one-on-one when he was campaigning for president. As to the Obama interview, CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM, OHIO'S LEADER IN BLACK DIGITAL NEWS.

Last Updated on Monday, 12 December 2022 04:38

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The annual11th Congressional District Caucus Parade is Monday, September 2

11th Congressional District Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge, a Warrensville Heights Democrat who also chairs the Congressional Black Caucus of Blacks in Congress. waives to the crowd last year at the annual 11th Congressional District Caucus Parade.  This year's parade kicks off on Monday, September 2 on Cleveland's east side at 10:00 am from E. 149th Street and Kinsman Road and ends at Luke Easter Park where the picnic will begin. The event will be replete with political speeches and entertainment from various sources, including local musicians and bands. The well-attended caucus parade was initiated by Democrat Louis Stokes, the retired congressman before Fudge, and the tradition was furthered by the late Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Fudges' predecessor. Stokes was the first Black congressperson from Ohio and Tubbs Jones was the first Black congresswoman from Ohio