Silhouette of a man shooting another man

Being shot by the police is sadly a leading cause of death for black males in this country, according to an August 2019 study by the Los Angeles Times. During a violent encounter with the police, black males are 2½ times more likely to die than white males.

But what about here in Columbus?

Between 2013-2016 the Columbus Police shot and killed 24 people, 20 of them black. At the time, we were number one in the nation of the 15 largest cities in police killing blacks, per capita.

Columbus police use force disproportionately against minorities, said a report initiated by the Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commission as part of an evaluation of the city’s police training and procedures. Matrix Consulting Group issued the 330-page report.

In 2017, whites constituted 61 percent of Columbus’ population, yet were involved in only 26 percent of the police division’s use of force incidents. By contrast, the city’s black population was only 28 percent but the report states that “more than half” of the use of force victims were black.

There’s a great disparity between the way Columbus residents view the Fire Department versus the Columbus Division of Police, the study revealed. The Division of Fire has a 94 percent “good” or “excellent” rating with the community, while the police are at 82 percent.

Perhaps the most critical Key Finding in the report was that views of the Columbus police vary significantly by race and ethnicity.

“The most frequently cited reason for a less favorable opinion were racial bias/excessive force (12 percent) and corruption (6 percent),” the report stated. The report notes that “Findings indicate that non-white and black residents give the Columbus Police substantially lower performance ratings overall compared to white residents.”

For instance, “Eight-of-ten white residents surveyed (80 percent) reported that the Columbus Police are doing a good or excellent job overall, compared to 69 percent of non-white residents and 61 percent of black residents.”

The report stresses that “Non-white and black residents also give the Columbus Police lower ratings across a number of specific measures.”

Less than “Half of the black residents surveyed (49 percent) said they believe police protect the rights of everyone in the community….” Only 43 percent of blacks “believe the police make decisions that are good for all residents.”

White residents have a different view with “approximately 70 percent” believing that the police are protecting all people equally in the community.

When police misconduct occurs, “70 percent of white residents…believe that officers are held accountable.” Only “46 percent of black residents…” believe that officers are held accountable” for misconduct.

Interestingly, while there are great disparities on black and white people’s perceptions of police misconduct and how it is dealt with, the study found “No differences in overall police ratings” based on age, income or gender.

Race is the issue.

Black residents also feel less safe than white residents in Columbus, the study found. There is a 14-point difference in feeling safe between the white residents (84 percent) and black residents (70 percent).

The report’s summation is worth reflecting on: “…results indicate that community engagement with black and non-white communities has been less successful than with other groups. Black and non-white residents are less likely to describe their relationship with the Columbus Police as positive and are less likely to report that the police understand their communities or make it easy to provide input.”

Trump and his “Proud Boys and Patriots”

Kudos to Ohio U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown for having the courage to state the obvious about President Benito Trump: “He’s a racist.” And even more for the audience at the Columbus Metropolitan Club who clapped enthusiastically in support of Brown’s assessment.

A little over two weeks later on August 1, Trump rallied his supporters in Cincinnati. The Columbus Dispatch reported that the “Rally has racist tinge.” Two days later, white supremacist Patrick Crusius shot up a WalMart in El Paso resulting in twenty-two deaths and 24 injuries. The next day there was another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. News outlets reported that shooter Connor Betts admired the El Paso shooter’s manifesto. Nine people were killed in less than 30 seconds, six of them black, and one was his sister. According to, Betts’ sister identified as a trans man.

The New York Times editorialized that Trump “has brought into the mainstream polarizing ideas and people once confined to the fringes,” and some of those fringe elements in Ohio were making national news. A federal judge issued a $14 million judgment against Worthington native and Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin on July 14, 2019 for his internet “troll storm” against a Jewish woman in Whitefish, Montana.

Mahoning County, Ohio Sheriffs arrested James Patrick Reardon August 16, 2019 on charges of harassment and aggravated menacing after he posted a video of himself firing a gun and referring to a local Jewish Community Center. Reardon captioned his video “Police identify the Youngstown Jewish family community shooter as local white nationalist Seamus O. Reardon.”

White supremacist flyers continued to inundate Columbus and its suburbs. A dozen neo-Nazi Proud Boys marched in Dublin, Ohio carrying Trump campaign banners and Dutch NSB fascist party flags on August 17, 2019. The next day a poster created by the violent neo-Nazi Atomwaffen Division appeared on the door at Pearls of Wisdom, a self-described new age store in Clintonville. Anti-Racist Action member Olivia Flak posted a photo of the poster on Facebook, noting “Our own President is encouraging them to commit violence.”

A little over a week later, a flyer posted downtown across from the Franklin County Courthouse simply resurrected the pro-Nazi and fascist mass movement from the 1930s. The flyer, created by the simply said “America First.” 

The Free Press says Solidarity with All People First.

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