East Cleveland City Council Vice President Ernest Smith was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly unlawfully selling alcohol at a “back-to-school” fundraiser that sources say featured underage exotic dancers.
Earnest Smith was arrested for allegedly unlawfully selling alcohol out of a building, according to a report by Cleveland 19 News.
Sources added that there had been “underage strippers” dancing inside the building — known as “Oppressed People’s Nation” — for an event that was supposed to be a back-to-school fundraiser.
“I don’t know who gave him the authority and license to do that,” said community activist Juanita Gowdy to Cleveland 19 News. “I think it’s sad. Our neighborhood and our community definitely needs role models that are gonna uphold our community.”
Smith, however, denies that there had been underage exotic dancers in the “Oppressed People’s Nation,” which is listed as “permanently closed,” according to a Google Maps search. The City Council VP addressed the public in a Facebook video detailing his account.
“We have events all the time,” said Smith. “There were no underage females in the spot. I didn’t get charged with a bunch of felonies and all that — I got a very small misdemeanor for an ‘I’ that wasn’t dotted, and a ‘T’ that wasn’t crossed.”
“Yes, I had a partnership party last night,” added Smith. “Anybody who knows me knows what it was for — to raise funds for these back-to-school events.”
Smith maintains that his arrest was due to the lack of a liquor license, according to Cleveland 19 News.
Nonetheless, Gowdy says that she wants to see a judge and a prosecutor outside the city of East Cleveland to handle the probe into Smith’s alleged illegal activity.
“Smith told us if he did anything wrong in the community to hold him accountable,” affirmed Gowdy, “and that’s why I’m here, I’m holding him accountable.”