New NAACP President comments on CPD chase & shooting investigation

CLEVELAND - A new page in the NAACP's Cleveland chapter, District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. on Sunday swore in the group's first new president in 20 years, Reverend Hilton O. Smith.  

A sweeping applause followed inside the Abbysinia Baptist Church on Cleveland's east side.

The new NAACP President, Rev. Hilton O. Smith said, "We want to make absolutely sure that young people in our community and elsewhere know the real history of the NAACP and what it stands for and what it had done throughout history as an ambassador organization for civil rights."

And with that the group wasted no time in discussing civil rights in the investigation of the Cleveland police chase and shooting that left two people, presumed to be unarmed, dead after being shot multiple times.

The end to Sunday's installation program of the new NAACP president, came with, "They did flee the scene, obviously it was inappropriate. But what was also inappropriate was firing 137-shots into an unarmed vehicle," as a member went over the latest in the case for all to hear. 

Have civil rights been violated? It's the million dollar question the NAACP among other rights groups wants answered. They have, with no success, called for an independent prosecutor to handle the case and Sunday, voiced frustrations that the gun residue test results on the victims have still not been released.

But other information has still continued to surface, like a surveillance video that shows nearly 40 police vehicles in a span of about three minutes, all ensuing on the same chase.

The racial make-up of the 13 Cleveland officers is also a source of frustration for some. East Cleveland Councilman, Nathaniel Martin attended Sunday's ceremony and on the 13 said, "Twelve white officers and one Hispanic. We need the truth."

The new NAACP president, Rev. Smith, said his focus remains on civil rights, and civil rights for all.

"The way that it happened. It's unfortunate even if it were all Black cops or all Hispanic cops.  So I'm looking at people as people and we're, again, we're going to wait for this investigation," said the new NAACP President.

Rev. Smith said when the results come out, the NAACP will be able to take a more firm stance on the case.

East Cleveland Police Chief Ralph Spotts has said he's hoping for the investigation to come to an end by this Friday.

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