I love Beachwood, but as a Black resident with two sons at Beachwood Middle School and a daughter at Beachwood High School, I am furious. A Beachwood police officer firing two shots into the side of a car of a suspected shoplifter at Beachwood Place in June 2019 as he drove away should make everyone who loves Beachwood furious, not just people who look like me or my family.
Then upon learning that city officials intentionally kept what happened from the public for 13 months, the cop has been on full paid administrative leave since the shooting and over a year after the shooting, the city was fighting to keep the footage from being released to the public, should increase our outrage tenfold, like it does mine.
The officer needs to face accountability. But that is not enough.
Although city council president James Pasch is not responsible for releasing the video, in his position he should be publicly outspoken against the footage not being released. Pasch needs to step down immediately because he is not a strong enough leader. He should have been more aggressive in asking the city to be more transparent in releasing the footage to television station WOIO when requested if he feels Black Lives Matter.
Leadership comes with responsibilities. There needs to be accountability when these responsibilities are abdicated.
When someone writes an elegant op-ed for cleveland.com as the head of the Anti-Defamation League in Cleveland and speaks for the city of Beachwood at a rally attended by more than 1,000 people in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing, espousing that “to be silent is to be complicit” and that his position comes with “a duty to speak up,” why has he been surprisingly silent while allowing the city to fight to keep this footage from the public for more than a year after it happened? That person must step down.
Although Pasch did speak at the rally, it appears it was just an opportunity for him to speak without real meaning. There are no actions behind his words. He has been a big disappointment.
In the week since the city was forced by the media to release the footage, they have been silent to all the important questions that have been asked. This is not acceptable and until all the important questions are answered, the city will not be able to move past this. If our city officials expect the public to believe they are serious about issues involving race and police use of force, they can’t expect us to rely on them to investigate themselves and tell us the mistakes they made.
The city needs to hire an outside and independent law firm to conduct a full and detailed investigation that provides the public a complete report of everything that happened in the 13 months that got us to where we are today. The city cannot and should not be able to move past this until we know everything that contributed to their unacceptable response since June 27, 2019. The people responsible for the decisions are most culpable, but there still needs to be accountability to those who were aware these decisions were being made and enabled them to happen by not speaking out.
If what happened in Minneapolis caused you to be outraged enough to be one of the 1,000 people to attend the rally in Beachwood, but are not willing to express this same outrage upon learning what happened here as it is more uncomfortable to do so, your silence is the roadblock to the changes I believe you were marching for that night. If you love Beachwood like myself and my family do and want to make it a better place for everyone, this should be important to everyone – not just people who look like myself or my family.
Marc Wilson is a Beachwood resident and the father of two 11-year-old sons and a 16-year-old daughter.