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Greater Cleveland Congregations Come together against gun violence

James W. Wade III | 6/3/2014, 9:04 p.m.
The community needs to understand guns that are used in most crimes are legally being brought by other people for ...

On Thursday, May 29, Greater Cleveland Congregations, the largest inter-faith, multi-racial organization in Greater Cleveland, organized around 1,000 members from 40 congregations, schools and associations to call for shutting down the felon factory in Cuyahoga County and stopping the flow of illegal guns into our communities.

Together, GCC announced that we would no longer accept drug abuse criminalization and gun violence. "Until now we have given our silent consent for a culture that sends our youths, our families, our neighbors to prison for non-violent, low-level drug abuse and they are labeled as felons on their life resume” said Rabbi Josh Caruso, GCC Co-Chair.

The community came out in support of this rally and you see cars parked all around the Quincy streets. The event was held at the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church where the Rev. Jawanza Colvin is the pastor and serves as a chair for the event.

“Until now we have given silent consent to the proliferation of guns in our society. Until now we have given silent consent as guns are illegally trafficked from the suburbs to the city and back again,” said Rabbi Caruso.

In an interview with Rev. Colvin and Donna Weinberger they had a chance to talk about the various stages of government they plan on asking help from. From federal, county and local law enforcement leaders agreed to meet no later than June 30th.

At that meeting, GCC will press these leaders to devise and execute an action plan to attack the flow of illegal guns into our communities. Having data from gun purchases it’s clear that Atlantic Gun & Tackle sells the most guns that are used illegally.

The community needs to understand guns that are used in most crimes are legally being brought by other people for various felons. Between Atlantic Gun & Tackle in Bedford Hts and Stonewall Range in Broadview Heights a total of 831 guns are being sold that can be traced back, 694 was brought in Bedford, Heights.

Pastor Richard Gibson from Elizabeth Baptist Church said, “It is not enough to seize guns at the crime scene halt the flow. He compared the gun crisis to a burst in a pipe, saying that it is not enough to clean up the spill. Fix the leak,” Rev. Gibson said

At the action, County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty agreed to meet with GCC within 45 days. GCC will press Prosecutor McGinty to report specifically what he will do to end the practice of pursuing felony charges for persons arrested for low-level, non-violent drug abuse by sending these cases back to the appropriate city prosecutors, who can charge these offenses as misdemeanors.

GCC also will insist on Prosecutor McGinty's specific plans for dismissing all charges upon successful completion of diversion, probation or a stay at a community based correctional facility in the extraordinary instance where low-level, non-violent drug offenses are charged as felonies.

Bishop Douglas Miles of the Industrial Areas Foundation Board of Directors, who traveled from Baltimore for the Action to end this senseless gun violence. “GCC please continue to move away from the shore and into deep waters where there is more risk but even greater reward,” he stated.

GCC plans to unite their power to build a greater Cleveland, GCC will take the following Next Steps:

• Send a letter to public and law enforcement officials to share the expectations of our specific requests.

• The Gun Violence Team will meet at 7PM on Tuesday, June 17th at Fairmount Temple, 23737 Fairmount Blvd, to prepare for our meeting with law enforcement officials and plan specific next steps.

• The Criminal Justice Team will meet at 7PM on Thursday, June 26th at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, 8712 Quincy Ave, to plan our meeting with County Prosecutor McGinty and specific next steps.