Residents showed up for Cleveland City Council’s weekly public comment session with hopes of pushing forward two efforts that have been in the pipeline for a while: seating the city’s new Community Police Commission and creating a participatory budgeting process.

The Public Comment CLE website has all of the week’s comments and transcripts edited by Cleveland Documenter Carolyn Cooper. Read more about the meeting covered by Documenters Chau Tang and Christina Easter.

Register to make a public comment or learn more about the process in our guide to public comment at Cleveland City Council.

Participatory budgeting

Willow Watson, from North Collinwood, speaking in Cleveland City Council chambers on Nov. 14, 2022. Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube screenshot

Willow Watson, from North Collinwood, told council members why the city should support a participatory budgeting process:

I think that participatory budgeting is a way to solve a lot of the generational issues I see within my community; including resident disenfranchisement and disinvestment from our communities…Participatory budgeting is not a fix all or a save all; but it has the potential to ignite people to begin to feel or see the agency of their voice; and their ability to create direct change and influence within their community. It also has the opportunity to build pathways into other forms of democratic engagement.

Willow Watson, from North Collinwood

Watch Watson’s full comment

Keshawn Walker, from Ward 4, speaking in Cleveland City Council Chambers on Nov. 14, 2022. Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube

Keshawn Walker, from Ward 4, said he wanted to see more of a participatory democracy and urged council members to consider allowing a participatory budgeting process to move forward in January. 

“People leave Cleveland. People have been leaving Cleveland. Man, you know what I mean? And I love this city. I’m not going nowhere, but I understand why these folks are leaving. And so this right here, man, you know, allows folks to be initiated into what’s going on; putting some money in their hands. Not even not even in their hands, because that’s not what you know this is. But having, you know a little bit more control over the stipulations, that you know what I mean, are stipulating their areas. Then I mean, we’ll begin to see people have some more pride. So I’m challenging y’alls Cleveland pride. And I’m challenging democracy tonight. You know what I mean? So, I’m asking y’all to have a little Cleveland pride. Let Cleveland decide and then you know, I mean the rest of you know the cards are gonna fall where they may.”

Keshawn Walker, from Ward 4

Watch Walker’s full comment.

Community Police Commission

Five residents commented on delays in seating Cleveland’s Community Police Commission. The overwhelming passage of Issue 24 by Cleveland voters included the creation of a new 13-member commission that has oversight over police discipline, department policies and officer training. The commission replaces a similar body that was created in 2015 as part of Cleveland consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Rev. Douglas Horner, from Detroit-Shoreway, speaking to Cleveland City Council on Nov. 14, 2022. Credit: Cleveland City Council Youtube

Rev. Douglas Horner, from Detroit-Shoreway, urged council members to move forward with seating the nominated commissioners. 

“We’re here tonight because the democratic process needs to move forward. And the only way to do that is for you all to…allow the police commission to move forward in the next part of the process. And bring it to the vote. Let’s continue the process, so that the people that have been brought on as the commissioners– some of whom have spoken already– can start to do their business. And if people don’t like what they’re doing, then a legislative process can happen; that will tweak it, as it moves forward.”

Rev. Douglas Horner, from Detroit-Shoreway

Watch Horner’s full comment.  

Image of a woman speaking to Cleveland City Council.
Alana Garrett-Ferguson, from Hough, speaking in Cleveland City Council chambers on Nov. 14, 2022. Credit: Cleveland City Council Youtube screenshot

Alana Garrett-Ferguson, from Hough, told council members that belaboring the seating of the commissioners wasn’t fair to the residents who voted for a change in the police accountability process. 

“We also have to make sure that we are actually holding police accountable and re-imagining public safety…Because we have to make sure that everyone, also our elected officials, have integrity. And they are also able to really uphold the faith of the people. Because it’s only fair for those and the voters who voted for this.”

Alana Garrett-Ferguson, from Hough

Watch Garret-Ferguson’s full comment. 

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