Black woman being arrested

Martin Luther King Jr: “Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.”

January should have been a month to celebrate new beginnings and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy. Instead, in Columbus, Dr. King would likely have boycotted his own birthday party after observing how our City leaders practice systemic racism and sexism in our city. At the City’s much touted annual MLK Breakfast, two young Black women interrupted Mayor Ginther’s speech by yelling “Justice for Julius!” It was peaceful protest – an example of the civil disobedience King’s legacy represents and what the City leaders were presumably celebrating. The two women were dragged out of the gathering and arrested.

In 2018, Julius Tate Jr., a 16-year-old African American, was shot five times by an undercover cop after he pulled out a gun. Julius’ 16-year-old African American girlfriend Masonique Saunders was charged for his death and with aggravated robbery. She reported that Julius had no gun and there is an affidavit by another eyewitness that has a different story from Columbus Police Department statements.

The Columbus Freedom Coalition released a statement about the incident including these words: “While our comrades chanted, ‘Justice for Julius, Julius had a dream,’ Ginther continued to speak over them, silencing their voices the same way he tries to silence the voices of the Black community.

Our comrades were dragged out by over ten CPD officers, and were not given their inhalers nor coats on a day when the temperature was in the teens. While being arrested, a representative of the city stated: ‘we live in a fine country, where we have the right to protest, but we do not have the right to be rude.’ But in a city where a little over a year ago Julius Tate Jr., a Black teenager, was murdered in cold blood by SWAT Officer Eric Richards during a sting operation, simply standing up for justice is rude in the eyes of the State.”

The two freedom fighters from the Columbus Freedom Coalition were invited guests to the breakfast and were charged with criminal trespassing. Dr. King said it best: “Without justice there can be no peace. He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetuate it.”

Appears in Issue: