WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Warren’s Mayor Doug Franklin is speaking out, saying he was “truly saddened” over the decision for more than 100 people to assemble together in the city.
According to a post on Franklin’s Facebook page, the group gathered on Kenmore Avenue to pay their respects to Darryl Van Jackson, who was killed earlier this month.
However, Franklin said this was not the way to do so, as the entire state is under a stay-at-home order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As part of the order, groups of more than 10 people are prohibited, with some exceptions.
“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,” read the Facebook post.
Franklin said the actions by those who gathered put local police at “unnecessary risk.”
“This total lack of concern for the health and welfare of others will not go without consequence,” he wrote.
One neighbor who didn’t want to give her name said the group eventually turned angry and loud.
“They started yelling at us, and, you know, we didn’t know what was going on… When you have a shooting, you’re scared to death as it us because this is a quiet neighborhood and now you’re just on pins and needles. Well, what’s gonna happen next?” she said.
Franklin said he’s been in contact with Warren’s police chief and the law department. All videos on social media and police body cameras are being reviewed, and charges will be filed. He said charges will also be filed 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 heartbreaking.”
He said he hopes this serves as a teachable moment for others.