The mayor and police of Warren, Ohio, have decided it is illegal to hold vigils to mourn for murder victims, and they have been encouraging citizens to become informants to help them punish the participants.
Last week, the Warren Police Department posted pictures of mourners on its Facebook page and asking people to identify them.
We are asking for your assistance in identifying the following individuals that were involved in a gathering in the 1000 block of Kenmore SE on Saturday-April 11th, 2020. If anyone has any additional information and/or video that may be of assistance, please forward it to the Warren Police Department
Police say, about 100 people had gathered where 30-year-old Darryl Van Jackson was fatally shot April 6, WFMJ said.
In addition to violating social distancing orders, police say a fistfight broke out in the area.
Jackson’s slaying was the second homicide in two days in Warren, the Tribune Today said. Police are investigating the Sunday shooting death of Mark R. Yauger II.
Warren Mayor Doug Franklin has determined that mourners pose a danger to the public.
He made an April 13 Facebook post that said:
This past Saturday I was truly saddened and concerned by the decision made to assemble a group of over 100 young people on Kenmore Ave. As a father, husband, son and brother, I understand the desire to pay respect to the loss of a friend and/or a loved one. With that said, we have worked tirelessly to try to protect our citizens and employees from the spread of this deadly virus. This gathering put not only the participants in danger, but also put their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and grandparents at risk as well. These actions caused our police officers and officers from several surrounding communities to be put at unnecessary risk. This total lack of concern for the health and welfare of others will not go without consequence. The Director and I have spoken with our Chief of Police and our Law Department. All videos on social media, body cameras, car cameras will be reviewed, and individuals identified will have charges brought against them for violation of the Governor’s Stay at Home/Social distancing orders. Charges will also be brought against those who organized the gathering.
As your Mayor, it is my duty to protect our city against the spread of this virus. We understand the hardship that these orders have placed on all of us. Many residents have not had the chance to see their loved ones in weeks. In an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, many of us have had to make some very difficult life changes, but we have done so because we truly believe that it is in the best interest of all of us. To see the blatant disregard for the safety of others, was absolutely heart breaking. In times of turbulence our city has always showed its strength. This is why #Warrenstrong and #Warrenproud have always been more than just hashtags. They have always truly defined us as a city. We have come too far in our efforts to relax now, or in this case flaunt our lack of consideration for the health of others for all to see. So, to those who organized and participated in the gathering, although I’m disappointed, I’m hoping this can be a teachable moment. I hope that you have reflected upon your decisions, and realize the real risk in which you placed law enforcement. Also, you must realize the risk in which you put yourselves and your families. To the parents of these young people, we must take responsibility for our children. This virus can lead to death. We can and must do better for the well-being of our City as a whole. I’m asking you to show and prove that #Warrenstrong and #Warrenproud are more than just hashtags.
Franklin said the punishment would be up to the courts, and that officials would especially target the organizers, according to Cleveland 19 News.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.