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Press Release

March 04, 2021 | Press Release


We are distraught by the revelation that Arthur Keith, a beloved former Boys & Girls Club member, was shot in the back and killed by a Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority police officer as revealed by the autopsy released this week. The incident occurred within a few hundred feet of kids outside our King Kennedy Club. Running away should not be a death sentence.

When Arthur was killed in November, we demanded to know what happened. We said that in life or death, we are here for our kids. Arthur was our Club kid, a friend and a kid. Not another statistic. A kid.

Instead of transparency, we were met with ambiguity and unresponsiveness.

Since Arthur’s death, we have asked many times for information concerning the investigation. We received no response or simply told that reports were not completed. We have now learned this week that the autopsy was completed nearly two months ago. And that report confirms what eyewitnesses declared in November. We are so sorry to Arthur’s family and the community.

We need the video from that tragic day. We need real leadership. We need to have a real assessment, analysis and subsequent plan of action that brings about the change that has been sought for decades. How long do our communities have to wait? We cannot do this solely through grass-roots community efforts and we cannot leave a problem at the feet of our communities that is not their responsibility to solve. The change we seek will not come about by simply bringing kids and officers together. As you may have learned this week, the CMHA officer who fired the fatal shot had participated in such programs at our Club, and Arthur was an attendee. Clearly, that does not work.

Today we are asking that leaders of the organizations of our community come together to solve this problem for our communities with us. We cannot continue to have members of the community meet to voice their concerns into a vacuum. The city and these organizations own the budgets, the resources, the training and the change management capabilities needed to drive sustainable change. We need to see them be present, listening, and charting pathways to make these changes with us. We want to partner but need them to engage in this conversation.

We work every day to keep our kids safe and on the right path. I asked two staff members on the front lines – King Kennedy Club and East Tech Teen Center Director Richard Starr and Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance Executive Director Myesha Crowe – to reflect on the Arthur Keith shooting.

Richard Starr: “The autopsy report on Arthur Keith was completed Dec. 9 — 24 days after Arthur was killed. But Stanley Jackson, the attorney for Arthur’s family, had to wait until March 1 to receive the information. Arthur’s death is an example of why leadership and accountability need to be enforced throughout law enforcement.

Justice for Arthur does not end because of the autopsy report; this report exemplifies that justice is needed for Arthur.”

Myesha Crowe: “It’s unfortunate that, dead or alive, the narrative of a Black man, woman or child is depicted by the communities in which they live. As a Black woman, the color of our skin and/or the communities we live in should not be a justifiable thought when an officer decides to take a life. The voices of the communities reveal what happened, and their voices remained unheard because of the narrative issued by city officials. It is hard to trust the systems put in place to help protect and restore the voiceless communities when those voices remain unheard. It is imperative that grassroots organizations understand the urgency that is needed now more than ever in our communities due to the lack of trust and transparency by larger systems in our city. Through intentional relationship-building, consistent engagement and strategic resources, we will restore our communities. It is my hope that the city of Cleveland understands that we have failed again. We failed to protect Arthur Keith, Tamir Rice, Desmond Franklin and others whose lives were lost at the hands of law enforcement. The oath is to protect and serve — not to kill and destroy.”

We cannot and should not force individual neighborhoods and communities to continue to deal with this issue alone. It is time for city leaders, police and community organizations to come together and change the environment that enables the kinds of police shootings like the one that took Arthur Keith’s life.

Jeff Scott

President and CEO

Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio