A group of black community leaders in Columbus, Ohio are using their coalition to call on the Department of Justice to open an investigation by the Columbus Division of Police.
The Columbus Police Accountability Coalition penned a letter suspending the mayor’s motion for a department review following the recent fatal shooting of 15-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, News One reports. “Mayor Ginther has made no significant effort to reform the CPD and let the police run rampant with no accountability or consideration for human life,” civil rights attorney Sean L. Walton said in a statement.
The letter cited a report from Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs that Columbus Police made up half of all violence use reports between 2001 and 2017. In addition, Columbus police justified the use of force in 99% of cases, the study found.
While noting the department’s lack of diversity, reports of discrimination within the police department, and speculation about the use of taxpayers’ money, the coalition also looked at the dismantling of some of the department’s police units. The division’s ranks were cut in 2019 due to problems with the use of lethal violence, sexual harassment and sexual assault. Her civilian summer strike force has also been disbanded over problems related to the lethal use of force.
The black-led collective of law, faith, community and movement leaders urges the DOJ to investigate the division’s long history of violence and wrongdoing against blacks, reports WCBE.
“We’ve had tons of reviews and tons of reviews,” said Walton. “We request an investigation. The only cooperation we expect from the mayor’s office is to step back and have the DOJ investigate every aspect of the Columbus Police Division. “
Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin applauded the coalition and encouraged them to continue their inquiry.
“We know that many in our community have been asking and demanding this for years,” said Hardin. “It is high time the city guides listened, including me.”
The coalition is expected to host a series of public events in May to promote its movement and gather more testimony to further support the need for a federal investigation.