19 Investigates: A few protesters out of 100 may have used fake, out-of-state addresses

19 Investigates: A few protesters out of 100 may have used fake, out-of-state addresses
City of Cleveland institutes curfew ‘due to violence and unrest’ from George Floyd protests (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - 19 Investigates continues to look into where the protesters who caused the most violence and trouble in Cleveland over the weekend came from.

19 Investigates: A few protesters out of 100 may have used fake, out-of-state addresses

Cleveland Police have launched an investigation into the use of possible fake addresses.

But our investigation Monday revealed all of the protesters arrested listed Ohio addresses.

According to jail and court records, most of the roughly 100 people arrested for the protests listed addresses from Cleveland and surrounding suburbs, including North Olmsted, Mentor, Westlake and Ashtabula.

Two listed Columbus addresses.

19 Investigates has learned a few of those arrests may be from out of state, and the pandemic may have played a part in checking those addresses out.

Cleveland Municipal Court staff told us there were three main issues with checking addresses: the volume of people, the time limit and the pandemic.

The court said they couldn't get as accurate backgrounds as usual in the jail due to the pandemic.

A lot of information was confirmed by video instead of inside the courtroom, since they're trying to keep the number of people inside court low right now.

Suspects must be arraigned in 36 hours under law, which didn't give them much time.

A spokesman says it was hard to get accurate information, but they did the best they could.

19 Investigates watched the judge double check every protester's address at Monday's felony arraignments at the Cuyahoga County Justice Center.

To put the number of protesters arrested this past weekend into perspective, just 24 people were arrested during the 2016 Republican National Convention and that lasted a whole week.

The justice center dealt with more than four times that number of arrests this past weekend.

19 Investigates spoke to a police source who told us some outside organized groups prepared for RNC protests by renting houses or giving out-of-towners phony addresses to use if they were arrested.

We spoke to Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams over the phone Tuesday on why they think some protesters from this past weekend were outsiders.

“We have not arrested a ton of them because those folks travel from state to state, get involved in this stuff, know how to get in and out and start instigation, throw first rock, pull back, let everyone else join in and frenzy them up,” Williams said.

We asked Cleveland Police how officers check the legitimacy of an address after an arrest and for a copy of their policy.

In an email, a spokesperson told us to file a public records request for that.

But we know law enforcement can check the LEADS database for driver's licenses and criminal backgrounds.

Cleveland Police did not answer the rest of our questions. They said this remains under investigation.

But again, the court believes it was just a few protesters arrested who are not from Ohio.

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