Columbus PD Can’t Use Force Against Peaceful Protesters
On Friday (May 30), a Columbus judge ruled that the city’s police can no longer use force against nonviolent protesters.
In an opinion rendered and obtained by NBC4i, Chief Judge Algenon L. Marbley of the Southern District of Ohio called officers’ use of violence, tear gas and pepper spray as “the sad tale of officers, clothed with the awesome power of the state, run amok.”
The use of flash-bang grenades, rubber bullets, body slams or of police forcing and cordoning protesters into a confined area, often called “kettling,” are all now prohibited against nonviolent protesters by Marbley. Additionally, officers must ensure that police vehicle cameras and body cameras are in “good working order” during interactions with protesters.
26 plaintiffs sued the City of Columbus after taking part in demonstrations over the summer in reaction to the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among others. They alleged officers responded to nonviolent protesters with excessive force through various methods.
“We are pleased that the Court recognized the truth of the overwhelming testimony, shocking videos, and heart-wrenching pictures and issued an injunction which protects the people from the police,” said Sean Walton, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, according to The Washington Post.
The ruling comes just weeks after the death of foster child Ma’Khia Bryant, who was shot and killed by a Columbus police officer. The 16-year-old’s funeral took place at the First Church of God in Southeast Columbus.
The order also comes just days after Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and City Attorney Zach Klein recently requested an investigation from the Department of Justice into the Columbus Division of Police.
“This is not about one particular officer, policy, or incident; rather, this is about reforming the entire institution of policing in Columbus,” Ginther and Klein said in a letter on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. “Simply put: We need to change the culture of the Columbus Division of Police.”