COLUMBUS — Today, more than 30 advocacy organizations, including The Amos Project, ACLU of Ohio, Columbus NAACP, and Columbus Urban League, announced their formal demand for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Columbus Police Department’s (CPD) history of violence and misconduct targeting Black people. View the formal demand letter. (links to google drive)
The coalition’s letter cites an extensive list of the community’s concerns that have previously been lodged against the CPD, including the following:
Excessive force has been systematically used against residents of Columbus, especially Black residents.
- In the last five years the CPD has killed more than 30 people, over 70% of whom were Black and five of whom were children.
- Since 2013, Columbus police have killed more children than all but two local law-enforcement agencies in the country, Chicago and New York.
Militaristic anti-protest tactics have violated both CPD policy and the civil rights of Columbus residents.
- The unnecessary use of chemical agents, rubber bullets, and other practices have led to hospitalizations as well as minor injuries among hundreds of residents including U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, Council President Shannon Hardin and County Commissioner Kevin Boyce who were pepper sprayed during a peaceful protest in the summer of 2020.
Hiring practices have resulted in a police force that does not live in or represent the diversity of our community.
- Only 23% of Columbus police officers live in a city of Columbus zip code and only 8% live in a Columbus zip code that does not overlap with a suburb.
The City of Columbus has bargained away their ability to hold police accountable in the contract with the Fraternal Order of Police.
- The FOP contract with the city includes a wide variety of provisions that go well beyond the scope of typical workplace protections and prevent officers from being held accountable for misconduct.
Culture of corruption and internal discrimination against Black officers and whistleblowers.
- According to an independent third party report commissioned by the city of Columbus, 70% of Black CPD employees said they have witnessed discrimination and 30% stated they have witnessed an officer discriminate against a member of the public.
The City of Columbus refused to enter into the consent decree sought by the Department of Justice through the 1999 lawsuit brought against CPD.
- On September 4, 2002, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman submitted a settlement proposal to the DOJ that outlined various reforms the CPD agreed to make in exchange for the dismissal of the DOJ's complaint without prejudice. Since then, the City has attempted a variety of programmatic and personnel changes which have all failed to meet the fundamental directive to eliminate the pattern and practice of misconduct.
"Until the Department of Justice mandates and oversees the effective implementation of major structural changes within the department the most vulnerable in the Columbus community — people of color, children, low-income people, people with disabilities, immigrants, and LGBTQ people — will not be safe from those sworn to protect and serve us," said Sean L. Walton, a civil rights attorney representing the families with loved ones lost to police violence.
"Racism has been declared a public health crisis. At this point and moving forward, it is all about action. This is something that we have been asking for for a very long time, and we will not continue to settle for less," said Adrienne Hood, the mother of 23-year-old Henry Green, who was killed by Columbus Police in 2016.
"Our children have now been part of a bloodline of trauma that we should all be ashamed of. We have kids day in and day out who are afraid to go outside. We have young Black girls who are being adulterated before their team and misrepresented and that needs to stop," said Stephanie Hightower, President and CEO of the Columbus Urban League.
"A Department of Justice investigation is just the start. We need to continue advancing reform and rethink what safety means in this city. We will continue to work alongside community members to rebuild trust and make Columbus safer for everyone, regardless of where you live, what zip code you come from, and the color of your skin," said Shannon Hardin, Columbus City Council President.
"We have witnessed a disturbing pattern of extreme use of force by police across the country, Ohio, and right here in Columbus. It is far past time to merely discuss reform. We need to set the wheels in motion to bring about an in-depth review of current practices and scenarios, and ultimately bring about transformative change. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their communities. With never-ending police violence, especially in communities of color, we’re a long way from that reality," offered Jocelyn Rosnick, ACLU of Ohio Policy Director.
The community’s official petition to collect signatures can be found here.
FULL LIST OF ENDORSEMENTS:
- ACLU of Ohio
- All Voting is Local
- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc
- AMOS Project
- Black Abolitionist Collective Ohio
- Black Liberation Movement of Central Ohio
- Black Student Association at The Ohio State University
- Capital University Law School African-American Law Alumni Association
- Central Ohio Freedom Fund
- ChangeWorks of the Heartland
- ChangeWorks of the Heartland
- Columbus Stand Up!
- Everyday People for Positive Change
- Exodus Nation
- Faith in Public Life
- Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Columbus & Vicinity
- Justice Unity and Social Transformation
- Kaleidoscope Youth Center
- Men of Ubuntu
- NAACP Cleveland Branch
- NAACP Columbus Branch
- Ohio Families Unite Against Police Brutality
- Ohio Organizing Collaborative
- Ohio Student Association
- Ohio Young Black Democrats
- Parkwood Investments Ltd
- People's Justice Project
- Queer Partnership for Black Liberation
- Restoring Our Own Through Transformation
- Social Justice Empowerment Council - Community of Caring Development Foundation
- The Downtownerz
- The UnBossed Network