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Photos by Raul Arias

Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan, in a news report today, May 31, 2020, was quoted as proclaiming: “Saturday night sent a strong and clear message and [that he] hopes it prevents more destruction.”

Quinlan referred to the draconian and unnecessary curfew imposed on Columbus Saturday, May 30 by Mayor Ginther, and the Ohio National Guard and Ohio state trooper deployment to try to stop the city’s anti-police brutality demonstrations.

Such a tone deaf statement, sadly typical of our Columbus Police Department (CPD) for so many decades.

No Tom, your message tells us this:

· No one in city or state government or the CPD has heard a word the demonstrators are saying

· City and state priorities are that broken windows are more important than lives lost to police brutality

· City and state priorities are that demonstrations must be tamped down, and the safety and health of protestors is irrelevant (hence macing in the face)

· The status quo of racism and police brutality in the city and CPD is in place and nothing will change

· You think you’re being a tough macho guy but really it seems cowardly.

And they – meaning DeWine, Ginther, and Quinlan – think this is going to PREVENT more demonstrations?

Police brutality and killings and anti-police brutality demonstrations have been going on in Columbus for decades, I’ve seen it in back issues of the Free Press to 1970 and I’m sure it happened prior to that. The only time I’ve been maced was at anti-police brutality marches.

Does anyone in city government comprehend that during an ANTI-POLICE BRUTALITY demonstration, unprovoked acts of aggression by heavily armed riot police – spraying people peacefully sitting with mace and tear gas, ramming people with horses, and physically attacking protestors – is ironic? Beyond ironic?

George Floyd, dead from police abuse in Minneapolis – the incident that started the anti-police brutality demonstrations – “would not have wanted this” a news reporter stated on the news last night. I’m not so sure about that.

If a racist white police officer targeted you because you were black, kneeled on your neck strangling you until you died, while other officers watched – and somehow you could view what was going on after your death – I think you might want to see ordinary people revolt against your senseless murder.

What George Floyd would likely NOT have wanted was to have police double down on their brutality and racist tactics as the general public decries his needless death.

Columbus police’s response to the public outcry is this – a huge police presence walking in riot gear, on bicycles, on horses, in armor-plated war vehicles, shooting off mace, tear gas, rubber bullets, wooden knee knockers, flash grenades, and sound weapons. What for? Presumably to disperse a generally peaceful crowd.

There’s a lot of lip service from public officials sympathizing with people who are “angry and frustrated.” But do they actually know exactly why people are angry and frustrated? What people want is change. Not being brutalized, maced, and shot at.

Here are my observations of what is wrong with this situation, the factors that have led to where we are now, what needs to be changed, and why Quinlan’s actions and statements are so off-base.

And we know – we KNOW – city leaders know these things, too, but won’t admit them (except perhaps the ones who recently got maced):

· Columbus has a mayor who has skirted criminal charges himself. As Columbus Board of Education President, Andy Ginther covered up the Columbus School Board fradulent grading scandal. And after being ushered into mayordom by Michael Coleman, Ginther should have been found guilty and convicted in the Redflex scandal.

   o   This appears to the public that our public officials are above the law and we can’t depend on getting any justice from our justice system.

· The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) controls most Columbus city officials because as candidates for office and elected (appointed) officials, they believe they need the FOP endorsement to win. The FOP is staunchly pro-police no matter what, with a history of protecting racist killer cops like Zachary Rosen and Jason Bare, who killed Henry Green in cold blood after jumping out of an SUV on him in his neighborhood (and shooting up the neighborhood while they were at it.)

   o   This appears to the public that elected officials will never take a stand against police violence if they are more worried about maintaining their political careers. It tells us they lack integrity, courage and concern for the common good.

· The CPD has a long history of racism internally and toward the public.

   o   This appears to the public that racism is approved in our governmental system

   o   This causes most of the black community to fear and avoid the police, who are actually sworn to “serve and protect” them.

· CPD officers who have killed black people are not held accountable and usually the victim is blamed, i.e. 13-year-old Tyre King was supposedly carrying a toy gun that scared the obviously trigger-happy Officer Bryan Mason when he shot Tyre in the back while the kid was running away.

   o   To the public this appears that police enjoy shooting black children, are easily spooked, and get away with murder.

· CPD has a high rate of killing civilians per capita in Columbus. There are no de-escalation tactics used, it is usually shoot to kill, and they even kill people wielding knives only.

   o   This appears that CPD officers lack basic training.

   o   This appears to the public that murdering civilians is approved by the CPD.

· CPD have a terrible history of dealing with mental health issues and mentally challenged people. For example, the case of Jaron Thomas, who had schizophrenia and had an episode. His family called the police, who instead of helping him, beat and killed Thomas. 

   o   I personally would never call the police in a situation with a person with a mental disability. It would be like a death sentence for them.

· The CPD Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) investigates its own people, resulting in few punishments to any CPD officer, for even the most egregious behavior. For example the gang of white CPD thugs stomping on and nearly killing a black man in a store, caught on video, with no repercussions for the cops

   o   This shows the public the need for an independent oversight board or a civilian review board of the CPD, an effort attempted repeatedly by community groups yet always dismissed by public officials, including Michael Coleman.

· CPD hires people who don’t necessarily have a high level of education or good judgment. This results in insensitive and inappropriate actions toward civilians by CPD. When these people encounter a protestor saying “Fuck the Police” or other anti-police slogans, they react emotionally and immaturely.

   o   This puts many civilians at risk.

· CPD has a lot of military gear and tactical training more appropriate for a paramilitary squadron than a Midwest city’s police force.

   o   This appears to the public that CPD clearly wants to put these to use against anti-police brutality protestors.

· When white militia men in camouflage carrying automatic rifles converge on the Ohio Statehouse grounds (which is illegal) for a pro-Trump demonstration, there is no CPD police presence, no riot gear, no pepper spray.

   o   This appears to the public that white people can do whatever they want with police approval. But if black people do that, they are arrested, i.e., arresting Christopher Radden in Columbus on May 27 during one of the first recent anti-police brutality rallies, we believe because Radden was open-carrying while black.

· Conversely, when “Black Lives Matter” anti-police brutality activists descend on the Ohio Statehouse, hundreds of police are called out, some with riot gear. If there’s no riot, they have a tendency to start one, such as spraying peaceful protestors in the face with mace for no reason.

   o   This shows a significant bias toward black protestors and toward certain topics of demonstrations, clearly caused by the inherent racism and immaturity of police and their administration.

   o   This also appears to the public that police enjoy spraying people in the face with mace.

· The corporate media always report it as a headline if police are upset or injured. For example, the news reports May 31 stated five CPD were injured, but no information on how many civilians were injured by mace, tear gas, or by being brutalized by police – even after the CPD attacked U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, Columbus City Councilman Shannon Hardin and County Commissioner Kevin Boyce.

   o   This appears to the public that the corporate media care more about police safety and health than the public – or public officials.

   o   This tells the public that the corporate media does not perform investigations or due diligence in getting the whole story, or they don’t care.

· Three nights of protests resulted in our officials calling in the Ohio National Guard. This appears to be quite a very significant and insensitive overreaction.

   o   There was a day in May 50 years ago the Ohio National Guard was called out and resulted in the shooting deaths of four innocent Kent State students and injuries to others. Why was this action appropriate now?

So instead of calling it “civil unrest,” call it what it is: a police riot.

Instead of calling for an emergency shutdown of downtown, call for an emergency meeting of city leaders to address the concerns of the public.

Chief Quinlan – that will “send a strong clear message” that you are serious about changing these real issues in Columbus.