The coronation of presumed presidential nominee Donald Trump begins Monday in a city that is regularly convulsed by gun violence.
In a recent 12-month period, ending June 30, at least 113 people were killed and 367 were injured in Cleveland. The gun homicide rate in the city over that time was 29 per 100,000 — roughly on par with levels of deadly violence in Colombia, Brazil, and South Africa. (The gun homicide rate in Chicago in the past year was 19.3. In the U.S. as a whole, the overall homicide rate is around 3.8, according to 2013 data from the World Bank).
Not many people live in the downtown area around Quicken Loans Arena, where the convention will be held; even so, gun violence in the vicinity of the arena is not uncommon. In the last 12 months, at least 23 people have been shot, five fatally, within a one-mile radius of the venue, according to data compiled by the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive.
Thirteen of those are from just this year alone; three died.
January 21: Two men were shot to death in an apartment building.
January 21: A man was found shot to death under a bridge.
January 29: A man walked into a homeless shelter with a gunshot wound.
March 11: Three men were wounded in a shooting at a strip club.
March 18: A 17-year-old girl was shot by an 18-year-old friend while they were sitting in a car.
April 8: A 15-year-old boy was shot in the back by an unknown assailant.
April 14: A man was killed and another was wounded when gunfire broke out at a pub.
May 4: A housing authority police officer suffered a gunshot wound in the leg at the Cuyahoga Community College’s Western Campus firing range after a gun jammed.
June 1: Two men were wounded during a shootout near a homeless shelter.
June 20: A man was shot while defending his girlfriend from three attackers following a Cleveland Cavaliers championship rally.
June 20: A man was shot in the ankle while walking home from a Cavaliers rally.
June 22: A 13-year-old girl was shot in the leg following a Cavaliers rally.
The scene around the convention is expected to be tense, with police on edge after another shooting claimed the lives of multiple law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge on Sunday. Immediately after, Stephen Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, asked Governor John Kasich to “absolutely outlaw open carry in Cuyahoga County until this RNC is over.” Kasich denied that request in a statement, saying that a governor can’t “arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested.”
A decade ago, Cleveland was able to regulate firearm access within its borders. The city had an open carry ban on the books until 2006, when the state senate overrode Republican Governor Bob Taft’s veto of a law prohibiting cities and towns from enacting their own gun regulations, a concept known as preemption. Undeterred, the city continued enforcing its own regulations — which included a gun registry and a prohibition on assault rifles and shotguns — until 2010. In December of that year, it was forced to abandon them when the Ohio Supreme Court sided with the Buckeye Firearms Foundation, a pro-gun nonprofit that sued to block the laws in 2009.
Cleveland’s most famous sports star has spoken out against gun violence in his city.
Within the space of a particularly harrowing month last fall, two toddlers and an infant were fatally shot. “There’s no room for guns,” said LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers star forward, after someone opened fire into a car and killed 5-month-old Aavielle Wakefield.
The celebration that marked his team’s unlikely comeback victory to secure the Cavaliers its first NBA championship in 52 years was marred by shootings. In June, during the parades and rallies that followed the historic game, a man was shot and wounded while defending his girlfriend from armed attackers; another man was randomly shot in the ankle by a stranger; and a 13-year-old girl was shot in the leg.
At last week’s ESPY awards, James stood with fellow NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade and called on professional athletes to “renounce all violence.”
[Photo: Flickr user Erik Drost]