Cleveland Ward 8 Councilman Michael D. Polensek has called on Mayor Frank Jackson to declare a state of emergency in the city in response to an increase in violent crime.

The breaking point for the councilman apparently came Tuesday afternoon, when according to his office, eight young men engaged in an open gun battle with automatic pistols and an assault rifle at a Sunoco station in the Waterloo Arts and Entertainment District. Two of the gunmen were shot, and an innocent 7-year-old girl was apparently grazed by a stray bullet while in her father's car.

“When groups of young thugs feel they can stand on a busy corner and brazenly shoot at one another without regard for citizens or the police, something is terribly wrong,” Councilman Polensek said in a statement. “The Cleveland Police Department is understaffed and as a result basic patrols and deployment have suffered greatly. The citizens know that there are not enough police on the streets and the thugs know this as well."

In a letter to the mayor, Polensek also cited the assault of Father John Kumse outside St. Mary's Church on Dec. 11 and the "brutal" murder of Salvation Army worker Jared Plesec on Dec. 2. There have been 122 homicides in Cleveland this year.

Letter to Mayor Re East 156 Street Incident by on Scribd