Columbus community leaders call for peaceful protest

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Several city and community leaders are calling for peaceful demonstrations, one day after protests turned destructive in downtown Columbus.

“Protest is good,” said Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin. “Protest is right. Protest is the only natural expression of hurt people. We should be upset because the world is not as it should be, but I want to personally ask the community to make their outrage heard through non-violent means.”

On Thursday evening, hundreds gathered to protest police brutality after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

While the protest was mostly peaceful, several businesses sustained damage when some demonstrators began throwing objects at buildings and responding police officers.

Hardin said he understands why many in the community are upset, and he believes the city must stand as one to put an end to racism across the country, while doing so peacefully.

“We need people to have the ability to protest safely,” he said. “That’s a responsibility that’s both on our shoulders, the shoulders of the police, and anyone who shows up to protest.”

Hardin was joined on stage at the Lincoln Theatre by Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, some of his fellow council members, business leaders and other community representatives, several of whom also addressed the anger and fear felt in the community.

“I’m calling for protests because your voice matters,” said Nick Bankston, President of the Columbus Urban League Young Professionals. “You need to be heard, but demonstration does not equal destruction.”

According to Hardin, Columbus City Council will begin discussing legislation to declare racism a public health crisis next week.

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners passed similar legislation earlier this month.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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