Downtown Business Owner Tony George Sends Open Letter To Cleveland

Tony George

Photo courtesy of the George family

My family has lived in the Cleveland area for generations.We are business people who provide more than 1600 jobs.We are invested in Cleveland financially, emotionally and spiritually.That is why it is heartbreaking to see the great damage done to our community by those who hijacked a protest held in the name of justice and peace.

Dozens of downtown businesses, including ours, sustained substantial damage during this past weekend’s riots.Those aren’t just businesses, they are the dreams of people who believe in Cleveland, who put life savings into enterprises to provide food, drink, music, baked goods, groceries, clothing, and other products and services for the benefit of our community.

We are Clevelanders. We support peaceful protest.We stand for the equality of all people. We abhor race-based violence, no matter who commits it.What makes Cleveland special is that people of every race, color and creed want to live and work together.I look around and I see the looting and the destruction to our downtown - - that is not who we are.

It is not enough to say that violence is happening everywhere, in response to the killing of George Floyd.Someone has to take responsibility for what happened, or didn’t happen in Cleveland.The city had 24-hour notice before the march.There was no preparation by city leaders to establish a strict parade route, to block off commercial districts, to protect against the infiltration of a peaceful march by those who came prepared to commit violence.There was no call-up of off-duty police to provide additional protection, in case things went out of control.

When the destruction and looting began it would appear that police were told to stand down.We must have an explanation!Who is in charge of Cleveland?Where were the elected leaders in this moment of crisis?

I have raised this question about our absent leadership repeatedly.This failure of leadership is why I supported council reduction.I reluctantly withdrew the issue from the ballot, in the hope that a renewed effort toward unity would be a wake-up call.Nothing doing.

Cleveland City Hall leaders, especially the Mayor, continue to be asleep at the switch, with devastating results for our city.

First Cleveland’s businesses had to shut down during the height of the Covid-19 virus.Then, when we try to open back up, the riots start and shut us down again.Add to that, the reduction in business, due to the curfew.

This is a nightmare, which can end only when we have leaders who can rise up to meet the moment.

A four-day curfew is not leadership.It’s a confession of an inability to control lawlessness, or a capitulation to thugs.We don’t pay taxes for the police to be ordered to stand down in the face of looting.We don’t pay taxes to ensure the security of our streets, only to see the streets taken over by gangsters.

Tony George

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