Kasich: Cleveland 'a model' for responding to protests

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Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) praised Cleveland officials on Sunday for their response to protests after a police officer was found not guilty in the 2012 shooting of an unarmed black couple.

“What I will say is that I think the people of Cleveland handled this, I mean, they should be so proud of themselves, and we should look at Cleveland as a model,” Kasich told host Jonathan Karl on ABC’s “This Week.”

“But the credit goes to the leadership in Cleveland who have spoken in with one voice saying, ‘Protest, but no violence is acceptable in Cleveland,’ ” he said.

“And the people of Cleveland should be proud of what’s been happening here in the last 24 hours,” he added.

Kasich’s remarks follow Saturday’s acquittal of officer Michael Brelo, 31, for voluntary manslaughter charges in the fatal 2012 shootings of Timothy Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30.

Brelo reportedly stood on the unarmed couple’s car and fired upon both occupants after a chase.

Kasich, a possible 2016 GOP presidential contender, urged Ohioans to practice peaceful methods for expressing their discontent with current police practices in their state.

“And again, the people of Cleveland protest, they ought to protest, that’s their right, but violence has been kept to an absolute minimum in that city,” Kasich said.

Cleveland police arrested 71 protesters late Saturday evening as demonstrations over Brelo’s acquittal turned violent.

Kasich argued on Sunday that his administration had heard minority community concerns about their police forces and was addressing them via a statewide taskforce.

“When there are large numbers of people who do not think the system works for them and in some ways works against them we have to respond to it,” he said.

“And so in Cleveland and across the state of Ohio, we’ve been very aggressive in terms of saying, ‘We hear you; we understand it. There are going to be a series of additional recommendations that’s going to respond to the fact that community understands the police, and police needs to understand community,’ ” he added.

Cleveland is the latest of several cities nationwide struggling with tensions between its police departments and its minority communities.

Baltimore; Ferguson, Mo.; and New York City have also faced civil unrest over similar cases within their jurisdictions over the last year.