Where were Cleveland’s mayor and police chief during the protests?

Cleveland mayor and police address questions of their leadership during destructive demonstration

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Police Chief Calvin Williams were out of sight while peaceful protests turned violent on Saturday.

Where were they? And why wasn’t the city’s leadership front and center during one of the city’s most difficult times?

That’s exactly what people are asking about city leadership.

“We were working, we were in the command center,” said Jackson. “We were down here, working, getting intelligence from our troops on the ground, our commanders on the ground, we were getting intelligence from our federal partners, we were analyzing what was going on, deploying people, moving people around, we were working.”

Williams mirrored what the mayor had to say.

“It would have done no good for me or the mayor to be on the front lines and become the focal part of those and have officers not trying to protect us and not being vigilant in what was going on around them,” said Williams.

Across the country, images are emerging of city leaders and law enforcement officers embracing protesters and listening to their frustrations. In the past, Cleveland’s leaders, including the police chief, have been very public.

“There has been this comparison of my presence out during the Republican National Convention and Tamir Rice protest and not being out there in front Saturday,” said Chief Williams. “Those two dynamics are totally different.”

When Jackson was asked what grade he would give himself on the way he handled the crisis, he replied “I don’t do self assessment like that, you have to do that for me. If you give me a C, I probably deserve a B. When you are an elected official, you have pros and cons and distractors. I am just doing my job and people can judge me at election time.”

When asked if he was running for reelection, Jackson responded to reporter Ronnie Dahl, “If you run, I will.”

Watch the full interview with Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, below:

Phone interview with Cleveland Mayor Jackson, Chief Williams about city's protests

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