Cleveland councilman taps local leaders to address alleged Case Western racial profiling

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A Cleveland City Council member claims he was racially profiled while walking through his own neighborhood.

An avid walker, and outspoken council member, Kevin Conwell thought it unlikely that he would be racially profiled.

"This police officer sees me and he flashes his lights. I think: he's not looking for me, so I keep walking," Conwell said.

The officer stopped him, and asked for his identification.

"I said: what are you stopping me for? He told me some students had called in saying there was a black man panhandling," Conwell said.

Conwell said there was a report of a black man with few teeth panhandling, but the description didn't look anything like the council member.

"If the councilman can't walk his own ward, and if the councilman can't walk University Circle, we have some issues," Conwell said.

He was held for about 20 minutes, then let go, but Conwell can't let the police encounter go.

He met with local leaders to see what training can be done for officers in that area.

"I told them we are going to start evaluating when we give them a memorandum of understanding we aren't just going to just give it to you, we are going to evaluate how many African Americans you have pulled over. We are going to evaluate if you are racially profiling. I have to do that," Conwell said.

Conwell says since this happened about a week ago, he's had dozens of calls from people saying similar things have happened to them.

He says leaders in University Circle area are planning on meeting with Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams next week to talk about what kind of training can be done.

Case Western Reserve University sent this statement in response:

"The department's police and security officers have participated in extensive training regarding the tenets of community policing and appropriate interactions with members of the community. We will be providing additional education to all officers within the next few weeks."

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