More Than A Vote Teams Up with Citizens for a Safer Cleveland for Police Accountability Ballot Initiative
Clevelanders Can Approve Measure to Ensure Independent Oversight of Investigations & Disciplinary Actions for Police Misconduct This November
CLEVELAND — More Than A Vote is teaming up with Citizens for a Safer Cleveland in support of a November ballot initiative that would ensure that investigations and discipline resulting from police misconduct are conducted by an independent board of community leaders appointed by the mayor and city council of Cleveland. The partnership with Citizens for a Safer Cleveland marks the first local example of More Than A Vote expanding its mission to combat the racist nature of America’s criminal justice system under the Protect Our People campaign.
Beginning this month, More Than A Vote will support Citizens for a Safer Cleveland’s campaign through a digital content campaign that directs users to canvassing opportunities, phone banks, and other organizing events throughout Cleveland in support of the November ballot initiative. The campaign features audiograms submitted by family members of victims killed by police officers. The audiograms will detail who the victims were as individuals, the impact of their death on their family and community, and the need for accountability in Cleveland and across the nation. In addition to supporting Citizens for a Safer Cleveland’s ballot initiative, the content campaign will continue to make the case for passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act at the federal level.
The first story released today features Alicia Kirkman talking about the loss of her 17-year-old son Angelo “Easy” Miller at the hands of police officers 14 years ago, her battle combatting a system that attempts to dehumanize victims of police violence, and the need for systems of accountability so that families can heal and communities can live in more just circumstances.
Citizens for a Safer Cleveland represents a broad group of families who have fallen victim to police misconduct and statewide and Cleveland-area organizations, including the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, Black Lives Matter Cleveland, NAACP Cleveland, Showing Up for Racial Justice-NEO, and the ACLU of Ohio. Last month, the campaign collected more than 15,000 signatures to secure placement for the initiative on this November’s general election ballot.
If passed, this ballot measure would expand the investigative and disciplinary powers of Cleveland’s Civilian Police Review Board, an independent body appointed by the mayor that investigates alleged misconduct by police officers. It also establishes a permanent Community Police Commission to serve as the final city authority regarding the discipline of police officers, and provides the community with an ongoing voice on policing and community safety policies.
The Cleveland Division of Police has been under a consent decree since 2014 after a Department of Justice investigation found a pattern of excessive use of force and other unconstitutional policing practices. With the consent decree set to expire next year, this ballot initiative will help ensure permanent accountability.
“The best way we can bring about change is by partnering with the all-stars who are putting in the work every single day on the ground in the community,” said More Than A Vote Chief Communications & Content Officer Michael Tyler. “So we’re going to do our part to help Citizens for a Safer Cleveland build an army of volunteer organizers to go door to door and make sure Clevelanders have the opportunity to make their voices heard through this critical ballot initiative that will provide for real justice and accountability in the city.”
“We are excited to partner with More Than A Vote on this important police accountability initiative, which will literally change the lives of Black and brown Clevelanders once passed,” said Ms. Kirkman. “As a mother who has been seeking justice for her son for 14 years now, I want there to be powerful and permanent accountability for police in our city. More Than A Vote’s national platform will allow Cleveland families directly impacted by police violence like me to tell their stories and finally be heard.”
The partnership with Citizens for a Safer Cleveland is indicative of More Than A Vote’s efforts to replicate the successful model of harnessing athlete activism in electoral politics and apply it to the ongoing fight to move public opinion and change criminal justice policies that regularly victimize Black communities.
More Than A Vote began these efforts in May on the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder with a digital spot reminding viewers that for every name that the public knows, there are hundreds more that die without public scrutiny or concern. The spot concluded with a call to action encouraging viewers to call their Senators to push for passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Last month, More Than A Vote officially launched the campaign with a special segment of HBO’s The Shop that focused on America’s criminal justice system, policing practices that disproportionately harm Black communities, and the need to pass federal comprehensive police reform legislation.
Protect Our People will continue to focus on the many ways in which Black communities encounter the criminal justice system: from the moment of arrest, to bail and trial proceedings to the restoration of rights and expungement of records. Because of the platform and the personal experiences that the athletes and artists of More Than A Vote have, they are uniquely capable of putting a human face on the racist nature of America’s criminal justice system while serving as advocates for change.