Guest Column: City Hall must prioritize Black lives.

Jasmine Ayers

City Hall must prioritize Black lives
By Jasmine Ayres

When asked this week about racism in the police department, Mayor Ginther claimed: “There is no evidence to support that there is a pervasive problem within the Columbus Division of Police.”

This statement is a callous response that dismisses the grief and suffering felt by all the Black families that have lost loved ones to police violence.

But regardless of tact, the Mayor’s statement conflicts with the facts.

Data from January 2013 to June 2016 shows that the CDP has killed a higher rate of Black people than any other major city in the country. In Columbus, the average annual homicide rate of police killings is 6.77 for all people, while it rises to a staggering 20.42 for Black people, this for a population that only comprises 27% of their jurisdiction.

In 2000, the U. S. Department of Justice found enough evidence to confirm that:

  1. CDP officers are known to engage in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, making false arrests and lodging false charges.
  2. Victims frequently are African American (or are young, female, or lower income whites).
  3. The officers involved in misconduct often have a history of complaints against them, and fail to report the incident accurately (changing the facts to portray the victim as responsible for the arrest, the use of force, and/or the search).

In short, the Department of Justice found that: “the pattern or practice of misconduct is tolerated by the failure of the CDP to adopt and implement proper management practices and procedures.”

Our city’s leaders are failing the Black community in Columbus, which is a failure for us all. There is a significant lack of investment in predominately Black neighborhoods in our city, one of the most income-segregated in the country. City Council continues to fund and support the violent and aggressive tactics of the CDP.

I am deeply disappointed in the Mayor for this dismissive response. I am deeply concerned for the state of our city under a City Hall that ignores the communities needing support the most.

It’s time for a change. We need honest leadership that acknowledges the deep systemic and structural challenges facing our communities. We must transform our City Hall into a body that proves that Black Lives Matter, that Black businesses matter, that Black neighborhoods matter, not only in words but in concrete policy.

Jasmine Ayres is a Northland resident, long-term community advocate and candidate for Columbus City Council.