Demand justice for Thomas Yatsko's murder in University Circle

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April 16th, 2018


Barbara Snyder, President of CWRU
Lou Stark, Vice President of Student Affairs
Frank Demes, Director of Pubic Safety

We, as CWRU students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members are disappointed with the university’s response - or lack thereof -  to the murder of Thomas Yatsko on our campus.

On January 13th, Yatsko, a 21 year old black man, was murdered by Sgt. Dean Graziolli, an off-duty Cleveland Police Department (CPD) officer working as a security guard at the Corner Alley on campus. This murder is part of a pattern and practice of racial discrimination by the police presence on campus. In Fall 2014, a CWRU campus security consultant advised black students to introduce themselves to campus security “to be known” by CWRU police [1].  In the past month, councilman Kevin Conwell was stopped by campus police after a student presumed he was homeless and harmful [2]. In the dispatch call, the student said “I don’t necessarily think he is a part of campus” [3]. In Councilman Conwell’s own words, he was stopped by campus police for the crime of “walking [while] black” [4]  The University’s inability to respond effectively to these instances of racial injustice demonstrates its complicity in the continued racial injustices which plague the Cleveland community. This inaction invalidates the University’s written commitment to “inclusivity and diversity” [5]  in the strategic plan, and the stated goal of CWRU’s Social Justice Institute of “achieving greater inclusion on campus and improving university-community relations” [6].

It has been over three months since Yatsko’s murder, and there has been little to no information provided to the public concerning this young man’s death. No accountability for this violent crime on behalf of the CPD, Corner Alley, the University, or University Circle Incorporated (UCI) has been demonstrated. The University’s complete silence on this event (outside of a university security alert) is unacceptable. The administration must take a more firm stance opposing all forms of police brutality.

As a community, we demand the following from the university :


  1. Work with UCPD, CPD and UCI to obtain and publicly release the video tapes from Corner Alley of Yatsko’s shooting.
  2. Denounce the murder of Thomas Yatsko, police brutality in Cleveland, and the pattern of racial discrimination in CWRU policing practices.
  3. Work with the student body to recognize and affirm the Cleveland Community - in its complete diversity - as welcome members of University Circle.
  4. Engage police and security presences on campus (e.g. UCPD and the CWRU Division of Public Safety) to end racial profiling and police brutality through a commitment to actionable goals that modify training, security, and safety protocols.


Amplifying Black and Indigenous/People of Color Voices (AMP)

CWRU Radical Student Union

The Feminist Collective at CWRU

American Medical Student Association, Health Policy, CWRU Chapter

La Alianza

Showing up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Northeast Ohio

Read more here. 


  1. Lean into discomfort

  2. Cleveland Councilman Kevin Conwell decries 'walking while black' and calls for closer scrutiny of Case Western  Reserve police
  3. Listen to call to police that ended in Cleveland City Councilman getting stopped 
  4. CWRU Strategic Plan
  5. Our Mission - CWRU Social Justice Institute

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