Activists protest jail deaths, demand ‘care not cages’

Cleveland

Four people have died inside Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County Jail in 2023 — Nathan Myers in July, Elving Lopez in September, Freddie Tackett in October and most recently Rogelio Cubano on Nov. 16. Myers and Cubano were still in their mid-20s. Lopez was supporting a two-year-old daughter and Tackett had five children and three grandchildren.

Myers reportedly suffered a drug overdose, and the other three supposedly died after experiencing a “medical emergency.” However, the Cuyahoga County Jail Coalition issued a statement after Tackett’s death raising the possibility of foul play, calling for an investigation.

News reporters were unable to find out why Cubano was in the jail to begin with.  They could not find him in jail records, and his death was reported with a different last name, Latorre. Apparently Cubano was not charged with anything but was jailed after a positive drug test. In other words, he should not have even been jailed, and now another young man is dead!

The Jail Coalition held a press conference Nov. 27 to “condemn the jail management and staff’s neglect and misconduct that is responsible for the rising number of deaths and overdoses in the county jail.” The group stated, “We need more care, not more cages.” (Cuyahoga County Jail Coalition Facebook)

Coalition members braved the bitter winds off Lake Erie as speakers demanded justice, including Josiah Quarles of Responding with Empathy, Access and Community Healing (REACH) and Kareem Hinton of Black Lives Matter Cleveland.

Speakers denounced County plans to construct a new jail in the suburb of Garfield Heights. This jail could cost as much as $1 billion to build, with billions more going to bondholders as interest on a 40-year loan. Costs will be covered by extending a sales tax, now set to expire in 2027, for another 40 years. Cuyahoga County residents pay the highest sales tax in Ohio.

Martha Grevatt

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Martha Grevatt
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