Members of the Jewish and LGBTQ+ communities spoke up at the Oct. 2 Cleveland City Council meeting following anti-LGBTQ and anti-semitic remarks made by a public commenter at the previous week’s council meeting. 

Jenna Thomas, policy and advocacy manager for Bike Cleveland (and a Cleveland Documenter), talked about a no-driving challenge underway. 

The Public Comment CLE website has all of the week’s comments and transcripts. Register to make a public comment or learn more about the process in our guide to public comment at Cleveland City Council.

No-driving challenge

A woman speaks in Cleveland City Council chambers.
Jenna Thomas, Ward 16 resident and policy and advocacy manager for Bike Cleveland, speaks about a no-driving challenge. Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube

Ward 16 resident Jenna Thomas spoke on behalf of Bike Cleveland to encourage Cleveland City Council members to participate in the week-long no-driving challenge that commenter Joe Schwarten proposed during a previous public comment. 

People need to reach their jobs and their school and doctor’s appointments and grocery stores, and in addition to all the benefits this has on safety and economic development, a connected and accessible mobility network also keeps our social support system strong.”

Jenna Thomas, Ward

Watch Thomas’s full comment.  

Condemning hatred

Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube

Rabbi Scott Roland, leader of Congregation Shaarey Tikvah in Beachwood, thanked council for cutting off anti-semetic public comments at a previous meeting.  He added his support for LGBT+ people, who were also the subject of disparaging remarks. 

We will not stand idly by while hatred is spewed in our midst, nor will we tolerate anyone spitting venom at anyone else in our midst.”  

Rabbi Scott Roland, Beachwood 

Watch Roland’s full comment

Support for LGBTQ+ community 

A woman speaks in Cleveland City Council chambers.
Larchmere-Woodland resident Phyllis “Seven” Harris speaks in support of the LGBT+ community. Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube

Phyllis “Seven”  Harris, the executive director of the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, explained the history of the center and praised city residents and the local government for the support they’ve shown throughout the years by creating inclusive policies for members of the LGBTQ community and for supporting events such as  “Pride In The CLE.”    

Studies show that living in affirming environments lowers rates of suicide. LGBTQ-plus people are our family, our neighbors, friends and co-workers. Cleveland must continue to actively affirm and welcome LGBTQ+ people, and I know that you will, right? We got this.”  

Phyllis Harris, LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland  

Watch Harris’s full comment


Gennifer Harding-Gosnell, Freelance Audio Producer(she/her)
Gennifer is a news writer returning to her first love, radio. She holds a MA in Journalism from Kingston University in the UK, and has spent the last couple years as a Cleveland Documenter.