CLEVELAND – Hilda and Sam Husien argue they are unjustly held responsible for the illegal sale of drugs in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood of Cleveland, causing the Cuyahoga City and County Attorney to shut down their business as an alleged nuisance for public safety.
The city and District Attorney Michael O’Malley issued a restraining order on March 4, temporarily closing American Food Market and boarding Abe’s Beauty Supply next door, both located on Detroit Avenue.
American Food Market owner Sam Husien told News 5 that his store should not be held responsible for drug-related activity that takes place outside his store or in the parking lot. Husien said he has helped Cleveland police over the past few years make drug arrests outside of his business by providing crucial surveillance video.
“How can we be the cause of this, if no drug activity is happening in the store, for 35 years we have never had any problems with the police,” Husien said. “So they don’t want any drug activity, which I don’t blame them for, we don’t want any drug activity here either, but we can’t control that. We can control what is inside the store, we cannot control what is outside the store.
Hilda Husien told News 5 that her store’s permanent closure will hurt residents who need groceries and don’t have transportation to more distant locations.
“Oh, we are devastated, we didn’t know what else to do, these are our friends, this is our neighborhood,” Husien said. “And the customers, we are very close to them, it’s very convenient for them, why are we all paying this price?
“We’ve never had any drug-related activity in the store, we’ve never had theft, we’ve never had a problem with our store. You know, how can we control what’s going on outside.
But O’Malley told News 5 that the Husiens had many opportunities to play a significant role in reducing drug activity on their property and in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.
O’Malley cited the lawsuit filed against the two companies in Cuyahoga County Court and told News 5 that Cleveland police have collected evidence that will prove the two companies are responsible for being a nuisance to safety. public and to play a role in drug-related activity that has led to several drug arrests. during the last years.
O’Malley said the city and county need to use Cleveland’s nuisance law more often to address business issues across the city.
“This is an extreme measure that is used in very, very few cases,” O’Malley said. “We will aggressively pursue businesses that allow this type of activity to occur on their property.”
“You have outdoor drug sales that undermine the quality of life in this neighborhood and the safety of residents. The fact that this is the first time we have had to do this in our offices compared to this type of place speaks volumes.
O’Malley told News 5 that he doesn’t believe the Husien are at fault when it comes to chronic drug activity.
“We don’t think to be true, they could do more, and they should have done more, and it, quite frankly, should never have come to this,” O’Malley said.
The lawsuit filed in Cuyahoga County Court states:
Close surveillance of this location revealed a “drive-through” drug operation in which drugs are prepared and packaged inside and in the immediate vicinity of stores and then sold to customers waiting in cars located in the parking lot or lined up in the street adjoining the premises
The case is scheduled for a March 21 hearing before Cuyahoga County Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams, who could order the businesses to reopen or close permanently.
News 5 has learned that this isn’t the first time the city of Cleveland has tried to take action against the US food market. The former Cleveland Ward 15 council member told News 5 that he repeatedly tried to have the company’s liquor license suspended by the state of Ohio due to neighborhood issues. allegedly caused by the food market. The councilman said that every time he made a memorandum of understanding with the Husien about improvements, he said every time the Husien did not follow the agreement.
Meanwhile, the Husiens told News 5 they are ready to make significant safety improvements if the court allows them to reopen and serve the community.
“Well, I wish they would let us open on March 21 to serve the community and get back to work,” Sam Husien said. “For us it is very devastating, we feel very bad, we have always tried to help the community.