Tynan Krakoff during his arrest on July 21. He accepted a plea deal on December 20.  Photo by Brian Bleau

At the final stage before beginning what would have been a lengthy and costly jury trial, a plea deal was reached yesterday when Franklin County prosecutors dropped two of the three charges against Tynan Krakoff, a lead organizer with Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). Krakoff pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, a 4th degree misdemeanor. He was sentenced to forty hours of community service and a $250 fine plus court fees.

Prosecutors dropped the other two misdemeanor charges: failure to obey a police officer and pedestrian in the roadway. Before taking the plea deal, Krakoff was facing a maximum penalty of one year in county jail or $2,000 in fines.

Krakoff was arrested on July 21 near the Division of Police building in downtown Columbus. That protest was organized by SURJ in collaboration with People’s Justice Project. Over 150 marched in the street without a permit, demanding justice for the police killing of Henry Green. Krakoff was the only protester arrested.

“When I helped organize the July action to show that #ColumbusHasHadEnough of the assault on black lives, 13-year-old Ty’re King was still alive,” Krakoff said after yesterday’s court hearing. “Perhaps if the Columbus police took our call seriously, Ty’re King would still be here. Mayor Ginther’s inaction speaks louder than words. We will continue to push and put pressure on the mayor, City Council, and the police department until there is justice.”

High-profile police brutality, including the killing of Henry Green and Ty’re King, has sparked a wave of protests across the country. Locally, the groundswell of resistance and community support played a role in Tynan Krakoff’s charges dropping to a lesser charge, as pressure continues to build to make Columbus safe for all residents.

“I believe policing needs to be abolished, but it will not happen overnight,” Krakoff said. “Until that day comes, we need to work to divest from policing and instead invest in building strong and vibrant communities, which is what will truly bring safety.”

Krakoff has mixed feelings about the plea deal. “On one level, ordering me to complete community service is insulting since I already work full time, unpaid, as a racial justice organizer,” he said. “Anti-racist organizing is community service. I remain undeterred and committed to struggling for black liberation and collective liberation of all oppressed peoples across all intersections of identity. I believe in a world where black lives matter, and I believe that we will win.”

Despite being targeted by an undercover officer and intimidated during his arrest, Krakoff believes that he received the “white treatment” in the criminal justice system. “I am a white, cisgendered hetero able-bodied man with a support network,” he said. “Thus I was more assured to be given some semblance of due process that’s not given to people of color in this country and globally. I am committed to following the leadership of black organizers and communities directly impacted by white supremacy and state-sanctioned violence. Until we take responsibility for our collective complicity in upholding white supremacy and put our bodies on the line, white people will never break our legacy of violence and truly be free.”

Since Krakoff’s arrest, three more activists have been arrested during Black Lives Matter protests in Columbus. SURJ will be donating over $500 of surplus funds from Krakoff’s legal defense campaign to support  Jesse “Verbz” Kloth, Mary, and Isaiah St. John. Click here to contribute to their legal defense.

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