Columbus religious leaders critical of mayor, police


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus faith leaders leveled some harsh criticism at Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and Police Chief Thomas Quinlan Monday.

Members of the Area Religious Coalition (ARC) said they are tired of waiting for city leaders to take definitive action to combat racism in the community, including systemic racism within the Division of Police.

“There is a widespread malady of blatant injustice and racism in this city and it has not been dealt with yet under the leadership of the current chief of police,” said Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Kee, pastor of the New Faith Baptist Church of Christ.

The coalition said after meeting with Black police officers, a list of seven expectations for change were developed with the city.  So far, they say, only two have been implemented.

Rev. Tim Ahrens said the mayor and his staff have dragged their feet.

“It’s about time for the mayor of this city to stand up and be the mayor,” Ahrens said. “It’s about time for him to say seven expectations on the table for 20 months is too long instead of making more and more excuses.”

In response to the work of the faith leaders, the city appointed an Assistant Safety Director to oversee Equal Employment Opportunity complaints. The mayor recently ordered that investigations of fatal officer-involved shootings be conducted by BCI rather than the Columbus Police Internal Affairs Bureau.

Other expectations including Community Reconciliation Training and installing uniformity in the handling of violations of officer conduct have not yet been implemented

Police spokesman Sgt. James Fuqua says Quinlan is committed to combating racism.

“Chief Quinlan is adamant about making sure that any form of racism is not tolerated within the division and he will do whatever he can to make it better,” Fuqua said.

Rev. Eric Brown, pastor at Woodland Christian Church, wants more to be done.

“We demand that city officials begin the healing process in our city by demanding that all seven of our expectations be implemented immediately,” Brown said. “We can’t wait any longer for reconciliation between the police department and the community. Black Lives Matter.”

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