Black man in a graduation hat

Statement put out by the Columbus Freedom Coalition:


Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day meant to honor the legacy of one of the most influential freedom fighters in history. Martin Luther King dreamed of a world where Black children were not judged by the color of their skin. But today, two protestors were arrested during Columbus’ MLK day brunch, solely for asking the city to acknowledge  the execution of Julius Tate, Jr. While the city puts on celebratory airs, there is an ongoing targeted assault and war against Black communities in this country.

The City of Columbus hosting an event to pay homage to MLK Jr.’s legacy is insulting, considering how the City has consistently endangered and deprioritized the lives of Black people, people of color, poor people, and other marginalized peoples. Mayor Ginther has done nothing to support the family of Julius Tate, aside from his continuous support for Columbus’ murderous police department. 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 temperatures are 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. 

Police officers are waging war on our communities, Black communities, without consequence, without cessation. This unending attack can start to feel normal,  but we must remember MLK Jr.’s words: “The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy that recognizes the dignity and worth of all of God’s children.”

Julius Tate Jr. -- and many other Black youth in Columbus murdered by police -- did not have his dignity and worth recognized. He was set up and then shot down like an animal in the street, after he had already surrendered. Even in death, CPD treated his body with no respect, leaving behind one of the teeth they shot out of his face which his grandmother later found in a puddle of his blood on  the street. Julius’ mother and father never got to see their child’s face again.

As Martin Luther King Jr. once stated: “Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.”