David Harewood

It’s hard to qualify the events of the last two weeks, so I’ll try to recount the first as best as possible and hopefully someone who reads this can decipher their actual meaning. I’m not ready for the most recent week yet:

Two Sundays ago—August 28th, 2022—a group of protestors were arrested at the homes of two Columbus City officials for protesting the proposed September 14th clearing of Camp Shameless. (You might have read about that in my last column, but bear with me here.)

Everyone who’d been detained from that action was released by early morning Monday with no bail set. Court dates for the two arrested at the Council President’s house (who’s since been dubbed Shannon “Get off my Lawn!” Hardin in some circles,) was set for Thursday, the 1st, which was the original date of eviction for the camp. One of the Mayor’s staff attempted to dismiss the action as “political theater.” I don’t think he and I have met yet.

At around 2 AM on Tuesday, a Columbus Police Department K-9 unit was dispatched to serve a warrant on 20-year-old Donovan Lewis. They detained two other young men temporarily staying at the apartment, then went to Donovan’s closed bedroom door with a barking German Shepherd. Officer Ricky Anderson, a 30-year veteran of the Department, shot Donovan in the stomach within a second of having opened the door.

Donovan died around an hour later in the hospital.

Announcements that the video footage would be released were already circulating by the time the morning news cycle began two hours later.

In the meanwhile, people from the camp protest were either taking time off or taking interviews as news of the protest had spread via social media and after-the-fact reporting by the major news outlets. Tuesday evening, I sat at dinner with the two men who’d been arrested at that protest and another young organizer who’d helped with outreach and people power for that and other actions.

He started watching the released video footage on his phone just as we began to eat a blueberry/strawberry/rhubarb pie the pastor’s wife—who had also been with us at the house protests—made in part from berries grown in their garden.

“Don’t watch that yet,” I said. He ignored me.

He hunched over his phone, watching intently.

“Oh!” he cried. We all got up. “Yeah, you might not wanna watch it.”

Of course we ignore him. Everyone huddles around my iPhone, turned sideways, and watches.

We watch the video and are all shocked at the split second it took for Donovan’s bedroom door to swing open and for Anderson to send a bullet into his stomach.

The young organizer looked at me and I at him. It was time to go to work.

Wednesday we made phone calls.

Thursday’s resource fair at Camp Shameless started at 8 AM—the exact time that the  excavation was originally supposed to have begun. Organizations from Food Not Bombs to BQIC to Equitas set up tents. Several churches donated more than fifty meals to people. Between conversations with dozens people just coming to the camp for the first time and those fourteen people who still lived there, I had to occasionally break away to make sure I hadn’t been dreaming.

A young woman came up to me at around 10 AM to pull me aside.

“I’ve been dreaming about this for years, “ she said. “A community of people sharing resources, in community, eating, laughing together, getting each other what they need—and not an official or cop in sight.”  

Last Friday evening we met Donovan’s family and protested in front of CPD headquarters. We played Donovan’s tracks through his brother’s phone on a speaker with a spotty (but eventually fine) connection. We marched. We issued demands, we mourned.

Last Saturday we marched. We demanded, we mourned. We connected.

Last Sunday we marched. We mourned. We demanded. We connected. Of the public officials who spoke at the McKinley statue at the Ohio Statehouse, State Senator Hearcel Craig said “all our children matter.” State Representative Latyna Humphrey called Officer Rickey Anderson the murderer he is.

Last Monday we received word that residents of Camp Shameless would receive housing, food assistance, transportation assistance, and wraparound services for the next year and a quarter.

Last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we tried to resume “normal life” even as we understood “normal” no longer exists.

In the meantime, those of us who couldn’t attend  the press conference for Donovan’s family were at one for Casey Goodson , Jr.’s.

As it turns out, Goodson was wearing earpods when Jason Meade shot him in the back six times.

Casey was 23. Donovan was 20. They both loved music.

Yesterday we buried Donovan. The church was packed with people calling not only for the celebration of this young man’s life but a call to action to hold rogue elements of our authoritative infrastructure accountable. His keynote eulogizer said “We have a war going on.”

Indeed. Probably several.

Tonight I meet with a group of people determined not to let Donovan’s murder to either get lost in the overwhelming cascade of violence beset upon the country either by police or our own neighbors. The organizer leading the meeting was the same one who watched the video of his murder for the first time over a bite of pie.

Tomorrow we move all but one resident of Camp Shameless into housing. Next week, we will fight for that resident’s rights.

We’ll be saying Donovan’s name for the next three years.

I wonder what the next two weeks will look like?