CLEVELAND — After a violent weekend that saw 35 people shot, four people stabbed, and three homicides, the city of Cleveland has issued a statement on Monday evening.
"The City of Cleveland saw a sharp increase in serious criminal activity over this past weekend. Though it is not uncommon for police calls for service to increase in the summer months, the last few days have been especially violent," according to the statement.
Two separate incidents saw 14 people shot over the weekend.
Eight people were hurt while attending a high school graduation party on Sunday night in the area of Woodbridge Avenue and Fulton Road. They were outside when a dark-colored sedan drove by and multiple shots were fired. The suspects have not been identified.
In the early morning hours on Monday, six individuals were shot while standing on a porch outside of a residence in the 4100 block of East 81st Street. An early investigation reveals that the victims were shot by someone who was standing in a field across the street, and the individuals initially believed the gunshots to be fireworks. The suspect is unknown at this time.
"We hear gunshots literally every other night," said Tiffany Jackson, a mother of three from Cleveland. "And that doesn't make it safe for children, like, they can't play outside," she said.
"People are now coming out of a pandemic, and people are starting to interact with each other," explained Blaine Griffin, Cleveland City Councilman for Ward 6, when asked what may be behind the spike in violence. "People were isolated, and now you have people interacting and partying with each other, and even though that's a good thing, we are seeing the drama that comes with it," he said.
Cleveland Division of Police Crime Analysis Unit statistics show that homicide cases are up 30%, and incidents of felonious assault shootings are up 56%.
Cleveland police officers have confiscated over 1,400 guns so far in 2021, a 72% increase in firearms confiscations from this time last year.
So what is the city doing to combat this uptick in violence?
The Cleveland Division of Police is continuing to operate the Violent Crimes Reduction Task Force out of each of the five Neighborhood Police Districts, assisted by specialized units including the Gang Impact Unit and the Neighborhood Impact Community Engagement (NICE) Unit. The divsion also continues to partner with outside law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels in efforts to combat violent criminal activity and gun violence.
Police leaders say the division is continuing to conduct warrant sweeps to apprehend those wanted to crimes. Over the weekend, a warrant sweep yielded arrests for 1 individual wanted for rape, 1 for Aggravated Robbery, and 5 Felonious Assault suspects. An arrest was also made in one of the weekend homicide cases.
On Monday, Cleveland City Council authorized the city to spend $2.7 million dollars to set up and operate trauma counseling programs in the city’s 22 recreation centers.
The project aims to provide youth and their families with skills to prevent violence and the knowledge to overcome challenges associated with trauma and toxic stress. Griffin says the program is intended to tackle the root problem of violence.
"We know hurt people, hurt people," he said. "And we have to make more investments instead of just saying, 'Oh let's just arrest our way out of this.' Until we get to the psychological side of why some of this pathological behavior is taking place, we're going to continue to see this," he said.
City and police leaders also emphasize the importance of the public providing tips to help reduce the amount of crime in Cleveland. Citizens are strongly encouraged to contact police to report all criminal or suspicious activity. Anonymous information can be provided by calling CrimeStoppers of Cuyahoga, Inc. at 216-25-CRIME. Call 216-621-1234 for non-emergencies and 9-1-1 in an emergency.
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Editor's Note: The following video was from a previously published story