COLUMBUS—Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) released a statement today following the weekend’s protests throughout the state:
“The entire Columbus community, along with many other cities nationwide, have been witness to days of protests against systemic racism and the trauma it causes in our communities. We must acknowledge the brutality, fear and injustice faced by Black Americans every day. It is time for white leaders to take action to stand alongside our black and brown neighbors to bring change,” Rep. Lightbody 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.