COLUMBUS—Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) released a statement today following the weekend’s protests throughout the state:
“My statement won’t be unique. All of us who come from the fight for justice and equality, or who’ve made it our mission as well- we all share the same general sense and sentiments. We are tired and angry, and we are heart broken and disappointed. But we are committed and determined, and we are strong and steadfast.
Across Ohio over the weekend, we watched peaceful protests become the very thing we continue to protest against, in terms of the way many protesters were handled and the use of excessive force. People can try to explain it away by referencing looting and vandalism- but we’ve seen these kinds of law enforcement tactics from the American Civil Rights Movement to the protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock. We’ve seen it over and over and over again. Black or Brown skin is considered more dangerous, more offensive and provocative than the long guns on the shoulders of a White protester who waves his confederate flag and his anti-Semitic symbols, and storms state capitals. The looting of Black lives is what led us here to this moment in history. We have to control what will lead us out of this moment.
There is one particular African proverb that’s being quoted pretty frequently now, but it just keeps ringing in my head and heart, ‘The child who is not embraced by the village, will burn it down to feel its warmth.’ But again, we have the power to make things right,” Rep. Boyd said.
Following the deaths of Tamir Rice and John Crawford, Governor John Kasich formed The Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations in 2014. The Task Force issued its final report April 2015, and the legislature funded several of its key recommendations including a database on use of force and officer-involved shootings, a public awareness campaign, and state-provided assistance with policymaking and manuals.
Republicans, however, have cut this funding each year, and with a month left in the state’s fiscal year, Democrats are urging the Director of Budget and Management to transfer up to $2.2 million to the Statewide Community Police Relations Fund to implement these key recommendations.
Democrats have also introduced numerous bills to address inequality and racial disparity issues, but few have seen any movement. Bills include criminal justice reform, equality, gun safety, increasing the minimum wage and prohibiting discrimination in various forms. Additionally, Democrats continue to call for increased diversity and inclusion efforts throughout the state.
In contrast, House Republicans scheduled a hearing this week of chaos and racial unrest for HB 381, so-called stand your ground, a law which has led to the killing of many black and brown people throughout the country.
Additional examples of bills sponsored by House Republicans that adversely impact minority communities this General Assembly limit access to the ballot box (HB 680), threaten prevailing wage (HB 78, HB 663), allow hate speech on college campuses (HB 88), allow concealed weapons to be carried without a license (HB 178), and multiple bills (HB 617, HB 618, HB 649, HB 671, HB 682) that limit the authority of the Governor and the Director of Health to combat COVID-19 – a virus disproportionately affecting minority communities.