COLUMBUS– Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) President State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) today issued the following statement in response to Gov. Mike DeWine signing Senate Bill (SB) 175, dangerous legislation that would allow the use of deadly force by any individual who feels their life is in danger:
“We are disappointed in the governor’s inability to stand up to the far-right extremists in his party. By signing this bill into law during the pandemic, he shows that his priorities are misplaced. We have plenty of work to do in Ohio when it comes to protecting people from the virus and ensuring that our businesses have financial relief while they weather the brunt of this crisis,” said Rep. West. “This bill doesn’t protect people from anything; in fact, it will lead to the deaths of many. The governor has spoken about the disparity of COVID-19 deaths between Black Ohioans and white Ohioans. He has even spoken out about wanting to address this disparity, but he clearly does not understand or does not care that the bill he just signed will disproportionately add to the number of gun violence deaths in the Black community.”
“The passage of this bill comes at a time when our community is still grieving over the loss of two young men who did nothing wrong except exist as Black men in the state of Ohio. One young man was carrying a bag of Subway sandwiches and was shot to death; another was returning from church and met the same end. We need to protect all Ohioans, and this bill will only cause the contrary, turning Ohio into a state where you can shoot first and ask questions later. On top of that, this law places the burden of proof on the person that was killed. Governor DeWine claims he cares about Black Ohioans, but the signing of this bill is proof that words only go so far. We really expected better.”
The OLBC’s statement comes after House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) yesterday evening condemned the governor’s decision.