An Explanation of That Nutty Cleveland/East Palestine Conspiracy Theory

You've got to read it to believe it – but maybe don't believe it, ok?

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click to enlarge There's a new conspiracy theory relating a Cleveland policy to the East Palestine chemical disaster. - Photo: DAVID Mercado, Pexels
There's a new conspiracy theory relating a Cleveland policy to the East Palestine chemical disaster.

Like tragedies before it and those to come, the catastrophic train derailment in East Palestine has given rise to a new wave of conspiracy theories, one of which involves Cleveland. To understand it, you first have to understand the base-level conspiracy theory.

Under Cleveland mayor Justin Bibb’s administration, Cleveland has been exploring ways to become a 15-minute city. The term refers to a community where residents can reach everyday essentials —like work, school and shops — by walking, biking or taking public transportation in 15 minutes or less. The concept is meant to support public and environmental health and improve accessibility and community while decreasing reliance on cars.

“We’re working toward being the first city in North America to implement a 15-minute city planning framework, where people—not developers, but people—are at the center of urban revitalization, because regardless of where you live, you have access to a good grocery store, vibrant parks, and a job you can get to,” Bibb said in his 2022 State of the City speech. 
The policy effort was covered locally and drew national attention from Fast Company and other outlets.

From there, Cleveland was drawn into an international conspiracy theory backlash.

Fears about 15-minute cities are not new. When other cities have introduced 15-minute city proposals, they’ve faced onslaughts of protests, many bearing a striking resemblance to untethered Covid-19 backlashes. But it has spiraled to widespread claims on TikTok and Facebook that national governments or the United Nations are using the urban planning concept to corral citizens and take away their freedoms. Posts garnering tens of thousands of likes allege people will be walled in, figuratively or literally. Experts who have been interviewed on the topic and urban planners in cities across the world have been targeted with death threats as a result.

Like 9/11 and Sandy Hook truthers, it's all horribly dangerous and painful. 
Which brings us to East Palestine.

Piggy-backing off of the 15-minute city conspiracy, the claims here are that the Norfolk Southern train’s derailment, subsequent state of emergency and burning off of the hazardous chemical vinyl chloride were all part of a false-flag attack on Ohio citizens to force people to relocate from the area to Cleveland, a burgeoning 15-minute city.

And to think, Cleveland just wants you to be able to walk to a grocery store.

This story originally was published by CityBeat sister newspaper Cleveland Scene.



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