When You Can’t Dazzle Them With Brilliance, or How Fascism Triumphed in a Cleveland Court


Today, Judge O’Donnell of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas rendered a pre-ordained verdict in favor of state-sanctioned murder on the Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend. In 2012, after a 22 mile chase, Cleveland police riddled a Chevy Malibu with 137 bullets, killing the two unarmed occupants inside of it, who happened to be a black man and woman.

There were the usual excuses from the police. They thought they had heard gunshots fired from the car. They thought they had seen the female passenger brandishing a gun. They claimed that when the fleeing vehicle was finally cornered in a school parking lot, that the driver was using the vehicle as a weapon.

Officer Michael Brelo, an Iraq War veteran who happens to be white, jumped up on the hood of the vehicle and fired at least 13 shots through the windshield, claiming that he was so in fear of his life that he had to do it, and that the “firefight” was worse than being mortar-shelled in Iraq.

Yeah, right. So. We are supposed to believe that someone scared for his life is going to expose himself at point-blank range by jumping on the friggin’ hood of a car of someone shooting at one with a gun? What kind of idiot does that?

Much to the surprise and dismay of the Cleveland Police Department, District Attorney Timothy McGinty actually prosecuted Brelo for voluntary manslaughter and felonious assault. Brelo opted for a judge-only trial over the prosecution’s objections, but that’s anyone’s right under Ohio law.

I knew what the verdict would be when it was withheld for over three weeks and then announced on the Saturday morning of a holiday weekend. Judge O’Donnell took an hour–I know, I watched it live–to claim that first, he couldn’t find Brelo guilty of voluntary manslaughter because not all of the fatal shots could have possibly been fired from his gun.

That’s true, but this means that if enough cops fire enough bullets at an unarmed suspect, then whoever gets charged gets off scot-free.

I had hoped that Brelo would at least get a wrist-slap sentence for felonious assault. But NOOOOO.….the eminent Judge O’Donnell concluded that because Brelo perceived he was in danger, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that the use of deadly force was a positively cool thing for the cop to do. He wasreasonable, you see.

Most of the hour-long decision consisted of the judge pointing to a pair of dummies with the trajectories of multiple deadly bullet wounds stuck into them with foot-long pins, and discussing when and where from the shots were probably fired. The verdict itself took less than a minute.

It’s just been announced that several bus routes and roads into downtown Cleveland have been closed by the police, no doubt an attempt to quell the almost inevitable riot. National Guard units have been reported downtown.

Of course, no one, not the authorities, not the families of the victims, not the media, not the Black Misleadership Class, and not the pseudo-left, is talking about the real reason for the spate of militarized police violence in this country that has been escalating ever since September 11, 2001. And that is that the ruling financial aristocracy of these United States is preparing the police to repress an increasingly restive working and middle class that has seen its standard of living visibly decline so that the top 1%, and top 1/10th of 1%(Hillary, that’s YOU) can plunder an ever-increasing share of the national wealth.

Only a broad-based working class movement that doesn’t focus on race can change this. Unfortunately, I don’t see too much of that around.

I’ll try to keep you all updated. Have a nice holiday weekend, if your circumstances permit.

25 responses to “When You Can’t Dazzle Them With Brilliance, or How Fascism Triumphed in a Cleveland Court

  1. thanks, barbarian. i added a photo, and deleted the content you’d double up accidentally. i’d been following it our Baltimore thread, and it is fucking unbelievable. a cleveland Fibbie had been watching protestors ahead of the coming RNC, and of course…pre-Brelo verdict.

    they also moved the shaker heights prom to…the shaker heights country club. ho ho.

    oh, poor po-po cried.

    on the other hand, all six cops mosby charged in the murder of freddie gray were indicted, although on amended charges. will any of them be convicted? stay tuned.

  2. amend the number of shots, but: American skin

  3. Thanks for the pic, Wendy. BTW, Shaker Heights is THE Suburb here. Named after the Shakers, who didn’t believe in sex, and abstained, and…died out. Gee, I wonder why.

    Anyway, the authorities here in Cuyahoga County are positively terrified and bracing for the worst. I don’t know it the worst, whatever that means, will happen, but they are shitting bricks. They should be. Talk about “No Justice, No Peace.”

    Peace ain’t coming to Cleveland anytime soon.

    • .i was born in cleveland, and i (accidentally) lived and worked in shaker heights at the shop for pappagallo the summer before i headed to CU boulder. hough avenue riots were the summer before that, iirc. they actually produced some great changes for that neighborhood: banks, grocery stores, and public transportation, as i remember it.

      back then, it was about 95% jewish population, but with the coming of high energy prices, the castles became…other things, and a lot of blacks moved there. the mayor did his damnedest to hold parties for whites and blacks to get together; he reckoned it worked.

      but yes, it’s one of the most violent PDs in the nation. the guardian said ‘it was peaceful in cleveland’, fwiw. remember: the fbi is watching y’all. ;-)

  4. How nice of the judges to keep the movement going when the police have a lax spell. The Tamir Rice and Brelo news back-to-back has Cleveland in the streets again. And boy-oh is the chief of police thanking the “peaceful protesters”.

    There was a study reported this week of hypersegregated cities in the 1970s and recently. What was interesting about the cities that showed up statistically as “hypersegregated” is that they are the ones that have been the worst for police violence. New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Madison, Milwaukee, Cleveland,…

    Here is the Princeton University PR piece about the study:

    Hypersegregated cities face tough road to change

    The study referred to the institutional supports of racism like the post-WWII housing programs, discriminatory credit and redlining that held blacks in more confined communities.

    • Speaking of Tamir Rice, the 12 year old who looks like he was murdered in a police drive-up, that particular investigation is in the slippery hands of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department. They haven’t let out a peep about it, either, “ongoing investigation” and all that.

      Their strategy seems to be to just keep investigating until most people lose interest, and then say the shooting was justified on a holiday weekend down the road. Their problem is, Tamir Rice’s family and thousands of other citizens are equally determined to make sure that interest does NOT wane.

      At least in that case, since only one cop fired the shots that killed the boy, he can’t be found not guilty because the court can’t figure out which bullet killed him first. No, they’ll have to say the cop “reasonably perceived” his life was in jeopardy, and the problem with THAT is that no rational, reasonable person can watch the video and reach that conclusion.

  5. Cleveland outdoes St. Louis for crackdown.
    Totally peaceful protest. No looting. No violence. No nothing but taking the streets.

    First arrest the legal observers. (Illegal, Unconstitutional, false arrest)
    Then arrest the media. (Illegal, Unconstitutional, false arrest)
    Then kettle the protesters
    Then carry out mass arrests.

    The citizens of Cleveland are going to pay some hefty lawsuit damages for those actions. Arresting civil rights lawyers is not a smart idea.

    I guess Kasich is going for the Richard Celeste honors. Gotta call out the Ohio National Guard. It shut down protest the last time. But that was protest of choice, not existential protest.

    Oakland thinks they are going to curfew protest out of existence.

    I predict a lot of commuters will be dramatically inconvenienced over the next week.

    And where are all those politicians who yammer so much about liberty and “Don’t Tread on Me” and free-dumb? Those Minutemen didn’t even last a minute; they are MIA. (Although Rand Paul took out his aggression on Mitch McConnell last night.)

    The FOPs seem to have a national strategy to ride this out. And it involves no name badges. No media. No evidence. And heavy beating.

    • For a change, Fox News actually has an accurate article, as far as I can tell:


      The 71 arrests sounds about right. The police blockaded Euclid Avenue and St Clair Avenue, the most direct routes to downtown from predominantly African-American eastern Cleveland and East Cleveland. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that’s where most of the arrests took place. Downtown itself was relatively tame–just a chair thrown through a bar window, that’s it.

      Local TV newscasts showed a very healthy racial, gender, and age balance among the downtown protesters. There ARE some people here, both black and white, who know this isn’t a race thing, but a police state thing.

  6. This ruling was not justice, not even its simulation. This ruling was vindication for murder, iron-clad protection of the officer and his confederates from consequences.

    It’s what the courts do, what they’re set up to do, and the law cited by His Honor is intended to produce the result it did.

    Had he ruled otherwise, it would have been seen as an aberration. Of course, there would be an immediate appeal, and the further up the legal chain it got, the more likely would be a reversal of a ruling against Brelo (or any other officer) and an admonishment of the judge for daring to overstep the boundaries of jurisprudence…

    I thought it was interesting, though, that O’Donnell spent his entire preamble acknowledging the incessant complaints about violent policing and murder-by-cop and even indicating that the complaints were often justified and not punished by the so-called rule of law. I’ve seen other judges do this — not to the extent O’Donnell did, but still — and in doing so, indicate that the law is the problem, and something must be done about that before courts can rule against police. But while O’Donnell seemed to be indicating that injustice was rife, he didn’t seem to be opposed to the laws which made it so. In fact, his subsequent presentation — interminable, horrible — was, if anything, a defense of the laws which vindicate and protect police no matter what they do.

    No matter what…

    • It seems that most people in the Cleveland area agree with you, as do I. My neighbors sure do. None of us were surprised by the not guilty verdict on the manslaughter charge–that was designed to fail by the Prosecutor, I think–but we were a LITTLE surprised by the not guilty finding on felonious assault. Mayor Jackson obviously was; he wanted at least a wrist-slap conviction.

      Race may well have played a part in that one: Judge O’Donnell is clearly Irish, and nobody hates the black population of Cleveland more than the Irish and Italians. I grew up in Texas and was exposed to a lot of “Anglo” racism against both blacks and Hispanics there, but I seldom saw the virulence that I have from the Irish and Italians here.

      Pretty bad when racism up north shocks a Texan, yes?

      • He seemed quite delighted with himself, O’Donnell did, in rendering his vindication of Brelo’s actions.

        If he recognized how horrible it was, he didn’t show it.

  7. agent provocateur

    Reblogged this on Nevada State Personnel Watch.

  8. What kind of people are these? You ever look someone in the eye holding you at gunpoint and get the feeling that they’d just as soon shoot you as order a sandwich from the deli? I have. It’s a weird feeling to realize, to see in that person’s eyes, that he doesn’t even see you as a human being. He holds your life in his hands and could decide to shoot you right then and there and he knows he would get away with it. Because he’s the police. You’re handcuffed placed in the back of the police cruiser. My crime? Looking suspicious. In my own backyard, with proper ID and work gloves. That’s how easy any black man (any black, but men in particular) can become victim of police murder. One imaginary false move and I would have been dead.

    • i haven’t, nomad, although i’ve been held at gunpoint twice, and once by county sheriffs and their lackeys. but i mentioned the word ‘warrant’, and they left, thank the goddess.

      what you’ve described is almost too much to bear, except that we hear it so often. for a time, in the twittersphere, blacks were calling themselves ‘suspects’, then ‘potential hashtags’. some like to point out that race is a modern concept, and while it may be so *academically*, for people of skin tones other than white know from experience that Race Matters, especially to the po-po.

      the best police practices seem to allow cops to chase you for making eye contact, then lickety-splitting away…just in case. or failing to obey quite quickly enough, yes? i am soooo glad you made no.false.moves, darlin’.

      @bruce: *technically* the chief po-po is now Loretta Lynch. she swears more of the cops who got off will be under federal civil rights investigations…we’ll see.

      • That was my personal hand delivered announcement that the police state had arrived.
        This morning I woke up in a curfew
        Oh god I was a prisoner too
        Could not recognize the faces standing over me;
        They were all dressed in uniforms of brutality.

        • well, it would have been. i hope you weren’t charged or spent long at the station, even. but my, you tripped me up with those lyrics, thank goodness for ‘the cache’. ;-)

          best to you, nomad, now please read #SayHerName. please; it may expand your soul. and heart. no one here read it, dammit.


          • Yes, you are right. It does underscore the fact that this racial brutality is also unleashed upon black women as well as black men. Old as well as young, as my example attests. Didn’t mean to ignore the issue. Just haven’t been able to get around much lately.
            Yeah, no segue to Bob Marley, but I figured you’d recognize it.
            No I didn’t go to jail but officer friendly, who looked a lot like Zimmerman incidentally (this happened around the time of Trayvon Martin) was raring to take me. The interchanges between and the actions all parties involved was very revelatory.

            • glad to hear you weren’t incarcerated, for certain. meeting eyes like zimmerman’s would have given that message, yes: i could swat you as easy as killing a fly. but no, no; i’d meant the usual café commentariat breezed right by it, leaving me to wonder why, of course. a very big deal to me, it was.

              you reckon marley was killed, and hadn’t died of cancer? i’ll bring a great global cover, but maybe you can explain the line ‘have no fear from atomic energy’ or close? i’ve never gotten it.

              for tonight, i’m set to shut down. we had a very intense visit from our son over the past few days, and i’m knackered.

              on edit: bugger; i forgot to leave this load of har-har from the NYT:

              • I actually don’t know much about Marley’s death. I know he died of cancer. So I shouldn’t say he was killed. I have a suspicious mind. Can the nefarious forces cause a person to have cancer? I would not put it past them.

              • Just found this:

                “Charles Kong Soo writes:

                It was a case destined for the X-Files and conspiracy theorists alike, when Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez speculated that the US might have developed a way to weaponize cancer, after several Latin American leaders were diagnosed with the disease. The list includes former Argentine president, Nestor Kirchner (colon cancer) Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff (lymphoma cancer), her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (throat cancer), Chavez (undisclosed), former Cuban president Fidel Castro (stomach cancer) Bolivian president, Evo Morales (nasal cancer) and Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo (lymphoma cancer). What do they have in common besides cancer? All of them are left-wing leaders. Coincidence?

                Additional victims may include pan-Africanist Kwame Ture, Jamaica’s reggae musician Bob Marley and Dominican Prime Minister Rosie Douglas. ”

                So, maybe the idea of Marley being murdered by weaponized cancer is not so far fetched after all.

                • dunno, darlin’; it’s alex jones, after all. look on the right sidebar of ‘the most popular stories’, lol. (the one about feminists demanding people call her She; well, i certainly do!)

                  i will say chavez believed he was killed by his enemies, though. my ignorance will show: i don’t know nuffin’ bout kwame ture or rosie douglas.

                  but you pinged a reminder of a piece at BAR i was struggling to grasp; i’ll go fetch it.


                  note:it’s NOT homework, ;-)

          • no wonder they killed bob marley. he was waking people up.

  9. Talk to The HEAD PoPo:

  10. I’m late here, but thank you, OhioBarbarian – well done, I sadly say. You are part of Ralph Nader’s ‘other one percent’.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I visited in Shaker Heights and toured the Cuyahoga River just before that burned way back in the ’60s. There are bubbles and then there are bubbles, but the Jack Nicholson characters of the world (“You can’t handle the truth!”) have created a bubble soaked in the blood of innocents. I think ISIS is the final degradation of that bubble, where it leads, and our police forces and judiciary pretend it’s legal.

    It isn’t.

  11. happening now: the greater cleveland churches (GCC) are walking up to euclid and 6th, and chanting ‘we can’t wait’. click on brandon simmons @216Brandon twitter name to see more photos, descriptions, and hear their songs.

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