If the riots that resulted in the looting and burning of a good portion of Baltimore on Monday night were truly inspired by anger over a fatal case of police brutality, then it’s surprising that the City of Cleveland has remained relatively peaceful. It should be obvious that’s a good thing, but someone tweeted earlier this week asking if Cleveland should be “burned down” like Baltimore and Ferguson.
What shifts those tweets from merely offensive to downright idiotic is the person behind them, revealed today as Blaine Griffin, executive director of the mayor’s Community Relations Board. And yes, Griffin asked the question in his professional capacity from the official Community Relations Board Twitter account, which has since been deleted along with the tweets.
What’s unclear is whether Griffin’s job has been deleted, but it appears not. In a statement, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said that Griffin had been reprimanded, but he described him as “a committed member of my cabinet” who “has a heart for the City of Cleveland.” And after all, he was just trying to create a dialogue, right?
Griffin’s tweets refer to the trial of Officer Michael Brelo, who is charged with manslaughter in the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams in November 2012. The pair led police on a high-speed chase which ended with officers firing 137 rounds into their car. Brelo is accused of jumping onto the hood of the car and continuing to fire into the bodies after the perceived threat had passed. (It turned out that Russell and Williams were unarmed.)
As Brelo’s trial nears its end, Cleveland police are carrying riot gear, which hopefully won’t see much use. No, Cleveland shouldn’t be burned down, nor should any city. And we shouldn’t have to add that city executives shouldn’t use Twitter to “take a vote” on it.