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Group gathers in Cleveland to protest the Public Square RTA controversy

Updated: Jan. 4, 2017 at 5:49 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A small group of people gathered in Cleveland's Public Square Wednesday to protest the closure of the square to buses. 

The Federal Transportation Administration has given the Greater Cleveland RTA a Jan. 19 deadline to repay money from a federal gr ant. The repayment is due to an alleged breach of contract.

The FTA said in a letter to the GCRTA that the closure of Public Square violates a 2004 gr ant agreement, so the GCRTA needs to pay that money back.

The 2004 gr ant was worth $142.8 million and it was for the construction of the Euclid Corridor Transportation Project. 

Mayor Frank Jackson has said that he thinks Public Square should remain closed due to security and terrorism concerns, unless or until the RTA develops a "risk mitigation plan" to address safety concerns. 

"Safety and terrorism is always a valid concern," said Art McKoy Wednesday in Public Square.

McKoy is an activist with the group Black on Black Crime.

"But look. It a more valid concern is the people who want to ride these buses that want to ride them! A more valid concern is people spending their last pennies to ride these buses and can't ride 'em! That's a more valid concern right now!"

Al Porter Jr, a frequent bus rider and the president of Black on Black Crime, also spoke in Public Square Wednesday. He said that in his opinion, "the terrorist excuse is a fallacy."

Ward 2 councilman Zack Reed has plans to introduce legislation at Monday night's city council meeting that would block the city from paying and of the $12 million that the federal government said the GCRTA owes.

"The decision to close Public Square was made without the taxpayer why should the taxpayers have to pay for it?" said Reed.

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