More than 30 people shot in Cleveland over the weekend

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 9:53 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The first weekend in June was acutely violent for residents of the city of Cleveland: 38 people were shot, four fatally, and four more were stabbed, according to the Cleveland police.

Clevelanders rushed to crime scenes desperate for news about the well-being of family members, a woman cradled her injured mother in her arms as bullets flew past not knowing whether she’d live or die, and neighbors woke to the sound of gunfire and from their beds sent up prayers for the safety of their loved ones, their children, their neighbors, and themselves.

City police, medics, and dispatchers responded to scene after scene, putting up crime scene tape, transporting victims, and talking with family members, frightened neighbors, and witnesses.

Despite repeated requests for details about what was happening across the city, official information was scarce.

Police did not release information on the shootings and stabbings until late Monday afternoon.

Mayor Frank Jackson’s office responded to the violence with silence for more than two days.

Jackson’s office declined to be interviewed and instead issued a statement Monday evening noting a “sharp increase in serious criminal activity” over the weekend.

Cleveland police told 19 News that homicides are up 30% and shootings are up 56%. Cleveland police have confiscated more than 1,400 guns so far in 2021, which is a 72% increase from 2020.

There are 14 candidates in the running to succeed Jackson. 19 News reached out to several but only got in touch with two: former Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed and non-profit executive Justin Bibb.

“I think what we’re seeing this weekend with the increase in violent crime is the importance of us to truly rethink public safety in this city,” Bibb said. “We have to double down and really do a better job of working with all facets of our community to address the root problems of violent crime that have plagued our city for far too long.”

“We got to address the symptoms of why does a young 16-year-old boy think that a gun is going to solve his problems in that community when he does not believe that getting a job and getting an education will lead him to that safe outcome,” Reed said.

This is not the first time that the mayor’s office has been slow to respond to questions in the wake of public suffering or frustration.

Most recently, the city did not respond to calls for comment on EMS “brown-outs,” a construction project that caused a large traffic jam downtown, and requests from several Cleveland citizens’ to make a city street passable by removing overgrowth and trash.

When asked about his relationship with the press during an online forum in May, Jackson denied that he had ever not answered questions.

“I ain’t never not answered your questions; now there are certain areas I won’t allow you to tread on, and one of them is my family. That’s for sure,” Jackson said. “Now, in all honesty, and I’d hope you’d be honest also, I have a problem with bulls**t.”

Jackson has said he will not be seeking a fifth term in office. Several mayoral candidates say that they will improve communication between the city and the public.

“As the mayor of this city, I’m committed to being visible when families experience violent crime in their respective communities,” Bibb said. “I’m committed to walking the streets, especially right now in the summertime, as we know we’re gonna have a peak in violent crime during this time of year. It’s important that the mayor is visible and that they are using the bully pulpit of the mayor’s office to show the community that we’re ready to lead and be a good partner to restore that trust and accountability.”

“This is nothing new,” Reed said. “We’re talking about right now in this city of Cleveland we’ve already had 69 homicides already this year which means that we’re now going on our 10th consecutive year of 100 plus homicides in the city of Cleveland, so this isn’t about this administration. It’s about the next administration and what are we going do to ensure that the people in the city of Cleveland are safer than they are today.”

Cleveland police did make several arrests this weekend, including one of the four homicide suspects.

The primary election is on September 14th.

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