CLEVELAND, Ohio— The French Ministry has removed three Cleveland suburbs from a list of places for French citizens to avoid when visiting the United States.
The updated list removes Cleveland Heights, Euclid and Lakewood by name from the list posted on France’s Ministry website. The advisory list warns citizens to avoid certain cities and certain neighborhoods because they are considered dangerous, such as New York City and the Bronx borough.
The updated post, roughly translated, now says: “Cleveland: The city does not endanger the day but at night is not recommended. Some suburban neighborhoods Northeast are also to be avoided.”
The website also provided a note to say the website was updated on Friday, after officials in the three cities demanded apologies and offered French officials to visit their cities.
The list was updated about 30 minutes after a Northeast Ohio Media Group reporter spoke directly with the French Consulate in Chicago.
The consulate’s Press Attache, Pascale Furlong, said before the post was updated the ministry is looking into when the list was posted and how often it is updated. She also said they were looking into what criteria the ministry uses when posting travel advisories.
Kelley, who said on Thursday he was angered by the city’s inclusion on the list after being informed by a reporter, said dozens of people offered their support after
Kelley demanded the French government issue an apology.
Kelley said the list gave area residents and business owners
a rallying point to come together and stick up for the city.
“We support each other, we all get along and we do what’s
best for the cities,” Kelley said. “But if someone picks on one of us we’re
going to rise up and stick up for each other, which is what happened.”
Euclid Mayor Bill Cervenik said Friday he was glad the ministry removed the three cities from the list. He said he still is going to invite French officials to visit the three cities.
“We have a lot of exciting and phenomenal places and people in our communities and when someone is misinformed and puts up what appears to be a factual statement, you have no choice but to respond together,” Cervenik said. “I’m proud of all the people that rallied together.”
The website warns travelers about the possibility of terrorism in the United States, citing the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the anthrax scare in 2001. It also says many homicides are committed on the street in the United States and that they are related to drug activity.
A rough translation of the ministry’s website before it was changed on Friday said: “Cleveland: the city center does not present danger the day but is not recommended at night. It is recommended to avoid certain neighborhoods adjacent, by day and by night, in particular Cleveland Heights, Lakewood and Euclid.”
The lists include 15 major American cities to avoid, as well as neighborhoods within the cities, such as the Bronx in New York City. Other than the three Cleveland suburbs, three other suburbs are mentioned: Long Beach and Santa Monica, Calif. and Mount Oliver, Pa., which borders Pittsburgh and reported one homicide and 68 violent crimes in all of 2012.
There were 32 homicides reported in Long Beach, a city with 469,893 residents, and two reported in Santa Monica, which has an estimated population of 91,215.
By comparison, Cleveland Heights in 2012, with an estimated population of 45,761, had 168 violent crimes, 1,648 property crimes and no homicides, according to FBI crime statistics. Lakewood reported three homicides, 64 violent crimes and 1,025 property crimes for their city of 51,721. Euclid did not report crime statistics to the FBI for 2012.
Business leaders in the three communities said they were not concerned the list would affect the city in anyway but were angry at being placed on the list.
The U.S. State Department said they issue travel warnings based on information they receive on what’s happening within certain areas. A state department spokesperson said they take every warning on a case-by-case basis and “keep an abundance of caution in mind for the American traveler.”
The spokesperson said the warnings are typically issues when the U.S. government’s ability to assist U.S. citizens is hindered by that country’s government.
Places on the State Department’s travel warnings list include Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan and Mexico, among countries. The U.S. list also provides detailed information on each place within the country they advise is dangerous.
Kelley, who said Thursday he would not travel to France because of the city’s inclusion on the list, said he changed his mind after hearing the French travel advisory was changed.
“First off, the three cities shouldn’t have been up on list anyway,” Kelley said. “ I’m glad it’s off now. I guess I will put France back on my travel list.”