COLUMBUS—Assistant Minority Whip Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) released a statement today following the weekend’s protests throughout the state:
“The murder of George Floyd was horrific and is representative of a long pattern of systemic violence and racism against people of color in our society which is as old as America itself. The stain of the original sin of slavery still soils our American fabric. Acts of racially motivated violence cannot and should not be tolerated, as the outrage and protest on the streets of cities across the country have given voice to. I support the right of individuals to give voice to this injustice, and countless others, in the form of peaceful protest and demonstration,” Rep. Brown said. “As legislators, we must act to support communities of color in our state. We cannot allow the end result of these protests to be a return of the status quo.”
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.