Channel 5 Covers Rally By Activists, Families For Changes After Sowell's Death Sentence, Imperial Women Comment On Death Issue

Submitted by JournalistKathy... on Sun, 08/14/2011 - 12:18.


By Kathy Wray Coleman, Editor of The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com (

Editor's Note: View the video of Cleveland News Channel 5's Reporter Debora Lee's coverage of Friday' gathering of family members and community activists in E. Cleveland to eat soul food and for a press conference on necessary police changes around The Imperial Ave. Murders at Sowell received the death penalty, tentatively scheduled for Oct 2012, earlier that day. Also see Channel 3 News Anchor and Reporter Dick Russ' coverage of The Imperial Women's comments on Wednesday after the jury issued a death sentence verdict for Sowell as well as comments from Assistant County Prosecutor Pinkey Carr and Sowell attorney Rufus Sims, also at Additionally, this article contains a press statement from U.S. Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH) who has supported community activists in an unwavering fashion in their push for changes in police and other policies relative to the Sowell murders. 

Community activist groups, including The Imperial Women, Black on Black Crime and Survivors/Victims of Tragedy, gathered Friday evening at "I Have A Dream" restaurant in E. Cleveland, hours after Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Dick Ambrose handed serial killer Anthony Sowell a death sentence for murdering and dismembering 11 Black women at his home on Imperial Ave in Cleveland. On Wed. jurors recommended death by lethal injection for the former marine who had served 15 years in prison on an attempted rape conviction prior to the unprecedented murders that have rocked the predominantly Black major-metropolitan city. 

At the evening gathering the activists and family members of the Imperial Ave. victims munched on fried chicken and a host of other soul food prepared by Community Activist Art McKoy, and they called for changes in police policies countywide as well as swift justice for Sowell's victims.

"I will not rest until Anthony Sowell is in the dirt and that's when we will have our closure, and not a moment sooner," said Dorothy Pollard, a close aunt of Sowell victim Diane Turner, who was 32 when she fell victim to Sowell's killing spree, a spree that began in 2007 and ended upon Sowell's capture by police in late 2009.

Denise Hunter, a sister of victim Amelda Hunter and a cousin of victim Crystal Dozier, called police to task for releasing Sowell from police custody in 2008 following an attempted rape complaint from Gladys Wade. Sowell was later indicted on that complaint and subsequently convicted,  along with the murders, and the rapes of two other women that got away, including the one that got him caught again in 2009.

Six of the murdered women went missing after Sowell's celebrated release in 2008, negligent activity that generated protests from angry community activists, and calls for Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson to fire Police Chief Michael McGraph, and others of his all non-Black and non-female top level law enforcement leadership team. 

Pollard and Denise Hunter joined representatives of each of the victims at court Friday morning as a visibly shaken Ambrose imposed the death sentence. The judge first read an expose' of Sowell's maneuverings, including testimony from a surviving rape victim who said he knocked her in the head at his home, repeatedly performed oral sex on her, and then raped her, all before she escaped, but only after she saw a body without a head in the serial killer's bathroom. 

And while activists were instrumental in getting policy changes around the murders, including a missing person unit in Cleveland, they want a law that penalizes law enforcement personnel for not taking and investigating rape and missing persons reports and a countywide missing persons and rape reporting unit with channels for the respective police departments from different municipalities to input and secure data. Some family members of the murder victims claim that their missing persons reports were ignored. 

"It's time to act now," said Community Activist Judy Martin. "If we don't do something following this horrible tragedy that happened to so many families, the beautiful women who were lost, if we don't do it now, it's gonna happen again."

Also at the press conference was John Hairston, district director for U.S. Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), who called for a healing process on behalf of the congresswoman, whose 11th Congressional District includes parts of Cleveland and its eastern suburbs. 

The Imperial Women, the group founded around the heartbreaking tragedy, departed temporarily from a collective stance that the death penalty should be abolished because the legal system is corrupt and anti-Black, and supported the jury's verdict of death for Sowell.

"This is Anthony Sowell's day of reckoning and we are pleased with the decision," said Imperial Women Leader Kathy Wray Coleman to an array of media cameras following the death sentence verdict of the jurors on Wed outside of the courtroom at the county Justice Center. "He did this in angst, he did it deliberately, and he took the lives of 11 innocent Black women."


Assistant County Prosecutor Pinkey Carr said that the Sowell case "screamed the death penalty," with Sowell attorney Rufus Sims telling reporters that the death verdict of his client by the jurors and now also by Ambrose "is what it is." Sims and his partner in the murder fiasco, John Parker,  have since filed a motion for a new trial on Sowell, a typical thing for criminal defense attorneys, even if the respective client is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.


Fudge issued a press statement to the families of the victims.

"While others can never feel the depth of grief and loss for those of you who lost loved ones to Anthony Sowell's crimes, we as a community come together to offer our support," said the congresswoman. "I stand with you in calling for greater awareness and action to prevent more acts of silent and senseless suffering as occurred with each precious life lost on Imperial Avenue. Sexual violence and domestic abuse affect not only the victims and their families, they bring harm to our community and our entire nation, and may you find a measure of peace in the compassion and good will of others. I pray that time brings you healing." 

Journalist and Community Activist Kathy Wray Coleman can be reached at 216-932-3114 and ktcoleman8 [at] aol [dot] com. Read other articles by Coleman at

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