Late Tuesday afternoon when Mayor Ginther joined protesters near the Statehouse, several young African American self-appointed protest leaders – some barely out of their teens – approached him wanting to talk. The Mayor turned to them and one of the young African American protest leaders didn’t hesitate. He’s known for his icy confidence and at that moment it was coursing through his veins.

His name is “Jay Kay,” a 21-year-old who works in the kitchen of a local sports bar. He graduated from a Grove City high school in 2017 but could not find any reasonable way to raise tens-of-thousands for college and potentially start a career in media. His doesn’t come from privilege and far from it.

If you want to know the character and mindset of the young people who are peacefully protesting, get to know Jay Kay, who refused to offer his real name for safety reasons.

What sets him apart from many of the young protesters is what radically changed his soul at the onset of his teens. The shooting death at the hands of Columbus police of an older close friend who was popular in his former Hilltop neighborhood.

“The Mayor began telling us, ‘You want change? Then join the police force. You want change? Then run for office,’” recalled Jay Kay.

His dead friends face flashed in his mind’s eye.

“I told him we shouldn’t have to do that. ‘We shouldn’t have to join the police force, we shouldn’t have to run for office just to stop some crooked cops,’” he said. “I told him, ‘You are the public servants. You should be serving our communities. You should already be on top of this. I shouldn’t have to live in fear of the police because of where I live. If you don’t take action, we will.’ Then I walked away.”

Jay Kay, his activist friend 6Black Diamond and others, helped organize Tuesday’s Silent March to the Statehouse. They thought 30 to 40 people eventually might join them at the meeting place, East High School on Broad Street.

“When we pulled up to East High School there was 600 to 700 hundred people,” he said. “I had my bullhorn and we led them down to the Statehouse, and there was already several hundred people there.”

Mostly all were young people. The Free Press was there as well. It was loud and proud, and best for all involved, peaceful.

What inspired Jay Kay and his friends to organize the afternoon march was what they had seen at previous nighttime downtown protests. He witnessed looting firsthand.

“I was telling them this isn’t the right way. I told ‘em, ‘Think about it, you guys are tearing down black-owned businesses when you are screaming Black Lives Matter. Does that make any kind of sense whatsoever?’ I told ‘em, ‘We need to stop breakin’ into businesses, the stupid-ass Sprint store. You don’t have to be violent about nothing.’”

Ironically, but not surprising, was how the Columbus police had treated Jay Kay on Thursday night, the first night he decided to protest.

“The only reason I had a motive to go down there Thursday was to support my (dead friend). That was my only reasoning. I wanted to say something for him. I was sitting there at High and Broad not doing anything to anyone and a cop rides by on a bike and sprays me. I didn’t do anything to nobody.”

Lungs erupting, he told himself, “You can’t come at them with negative energy because they will feed you back with negative energy.”

What pissed him off was the police were getting paid, getting overtime for this.

“I told my people, ‘Don’t feed them. Don’t spit at them, don’t throw shit. You’re just feeding them. Obviously they have more firepower. They are the government. There’s just going to be more cops. There ain’t going to me more you, more us – just more cops. At the end of the day, don’t put more money in their pockets. You are literally letting them make their money off you.’”

Jay Kay and his friends felt a need to admonish the looters, one reason they marched to the Statehouse. But they want other young protesters to check themselves, and if they must peacefully protest again, come correct or don’t come at all.

“I believe some of the young people down there, they are not really there for the right reason. They are just down there to get it on social media. ‘Let’s see if I can get the most views on (Facebook) live.’ They are down there not standing up for what we believe in.”

When asked what Columbus police need to do going forward, Jay Kay said it would take him several hours to express.

“To dumb it down, the police need to be more understanding. They need to understand not everybody’s lives is like theirs,” he said. “You can’t take your problems at work out on a black man. Because you had a shitty day at work, don’t take your problems out on me.”

He continued, “I’m mad at how they’re taking action. They’re not doing this shit right. When we have a valid argument you have to bring [tear gas, rubber bullets, etc.] into it?”

“I think the police are going to see, I think the Mayor is going to see, that at the end of the day, this might be the change Columbus needs. The change the world needs. We don’t know yet. What we know is we want to be revolutionary.”