Cleveland residents shared their personal losses and their hopes that the city will put in place a holistic, public health approach to supporting families and survivors who have experienced gun violence in order to stop the cycle of harm.

The Public Comment CLE website has all of the week’s comments and transcripts, edited by Cleveland Documenter Gennifer Harding-Gosnell.

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

Preventing gun violence

Michelle Bell, who lost her son to gun violence, talks to City Council about how the community can help address the issue. Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube

Cleveland resident Michelle Bell lost her son, André Brown, to gun violence in 2019. His case remains unsolved. Bell, who founded M-PAC Cleveland, which supports survivors and advocates for change, called for city leaders to support grassroots community engagement to address violence and trauma holistically. Bell is working with Together We Rise and Project Ripple, groups that aim to support families and stop gun violence.

We must work together. We need community engagement to curtail this crisis of gun violence, and this crisis, this public health crisis. We need community engagement that unites all the organizations and individuals at every level.”

Michelle Bell, Ward 8

Watch Bell’s full comment.

Leslie Jennings-Maldonado tells council that gun violence is a public health crisis.

Leslie Jennings-Maldonado, and others who spoke to council, want gun violence treated as a public health crisis and for some of the city’s budget to be used to create a community violence-prevention strategy. The commenters were working together under the umbrella of Project Ripple.

We are trapped in survival mode, and being trapped in survival mode, that promotes violence. When that promotes violence, one of the violences that we have been living with this long is gun violence.”

Leslie Jennings-Maldonado, Cleveland

Watch Jennings-Maldonado’s full comment.

Veronica Howard ask city leaders to treat the gun violence epidemic with urgency.

Veronica Howard said gun violence must be treated like the epidemic that it is. That doesn’t happen, she said, because it affects mostly Black and brown communities. Howard lost her 25-year-old son, James Howard Jr., in 2011 on Christmas Eve. His murder is unsolved.

Just last week I was asked to come and speak about my son. I went into a deep depression. I said, ‘I can do this, I can do this’ because it needs to be done. We have to find a way.”

Veronica Howard

Watch Howard’s full comment.

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