by Sam AllardMay 15, 2015 at 1:30 PM
This morning, I was politely asked to leave what I expected to be public meeting at the Michael J. Zone Recreation Center.
The meeting was intended, I gathered, to help train community 'peacekeepers' for protests next week in the event they turn violent after a verdict in the Michael Brelo trial is announced.
"We will not accept a riot in Cleveland," community relations director Blaine Griffin said at a public safety meeting Wednesday evening. The city is trying to cover all bases to prevent Baltimore-style unrest, and the preparations read (more than anything else) like no one expects Brelo to be convicted.
Scene had been told that meetings would be happening this morning at Cudell, Zone, Burton, George and Glenville rec centers, one in each of the five Cleveland Police Districts.
We had some secondhand inkling that the "counterintelligence" operations discussed at previous meetings — "monitoring agitators" on Facebook, "embedding in protests" and reporting back to "point people," etc. — weren't entirely the province of "peacekeepers," in our understanding of them.
They seemed a lot more like the province of "agents," frankly, and quite a bit closer to COINTELPRO rhetoric than we were comfortable with. Never mind that the city was recruiting respected leaders in the faith-based communities, the Guardian Angels, and former gang members to lend the peacekeepers some street cred.
We thought we'd see what these training sessions were all about for ourselves.
No such luck,