Trump visits Cleveland Heights; Heights residents speak up

CH Mayor Cheryl Stephens (center) addresses the crowd. State Rep. Janine Boyd is at right. [photos by Deanna Bremer Fisher]

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held a “town hall meeting to discuss issues confronting urban America” at New Spirit Revival Center, 3130 Mayfield Road, in Cleveland Heights on Sept. 21.

Fox News Channel convened the meeting, which was taped live beginning at 9:30 a.m. for broadcast that evening. Republican Nominee Donald Trump was the special guest of Pastor Darrell Scott, who has received national attention for his support of Trump.

While Trump spoke inside the church, a counter-event was held across the street in front of the Heights Rockefeller Building. Protesters began lining Mayfield Road when the event began. Immediately after, several elected officials held a press conference at which Cuyahoga County Councilmember Anthony Hairston, Cleveland Heights Mayor Cheryl Stephens, State Senator Sandra Williams and State Representative Janine Boyd spoke.

After asking for an apology from Donald Trump, who she said is finally admitting that President Barack Obama was born in the United States after leading the birther movement for many years, Stephens quoted a statement that John Lentz, a resident of Cleveland Heights and pastor of Forest Hill Presbyterian Church, located a block north of the Heights Rockefeller Building, had made the previous Sunday: “Jews and Christians in Cleveland Heights, home of the arts, and a place of diversity with a big D, always believe that God creates all of us and everything and that belief means that kindness, a manifestation of Christianity, is welcoming everyone. Any church or any community worthy of its name believes that we accept everyone, whether they are Muslims or Mexicans. They should not be eliminated. They should not be removed. They should not be returned. They should stay in our country and there should not be walls for any of it. This community, Cleveland Heights, believes that we moved beyond this 50 years ago, not today!”

The mayor said she was an example of the progress the country had made, saying that although the Forest Hill once had deed restrictions that prohibited people of certain origins and ethnicities from living there, she owns a home in the neighborhood.

“We in Cleveland Heights have stood up to racists before, and I’m here to do it again for my community!” she said.

State Representative Janine Boyd commented on growing up in Cleveland Heights, where she learned Hebrew at Park Synagogue’s preschool and graduated from St. Ann’s and Beaumont, two catholic schools. “You see in Cleveland Heights, we practice Shabbos and Ramadan; we chant as Buddhists and we sing in our gospel choirs on Sunday mornings; we figure out what we're going to give up for Lent and we wear our ashes on our foreheads proudly, every Ash Wednesday. We celebrate Pride and advocate for equality. We welcome and assist our refugee families, and we value and nurture the relationship between our police and all members of our community,” she said. “We are a microcosm of the America that every American can be proud of, and that is why Mr. Trump's candidacy and platform do not work here. They do not work for Cleveland Heights, and they do not work for America."

Deanna Bremer Fisher

Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.

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Volume 9, Issue 10, Posted 9:30 AM, 09.23.2016