See previous reports when the review board voted to remove its member in the video player above.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus City Council authorized the removal of a former member of the Civilian Police Review Board on Monday night, after the board itself recommended his removal in December.
The vote, one part of the procedure in taking a member off the community board tasked with oversight of policing in the city, came more than two months after the board first voted 8-1 to recommend Gambit S. Aragon’s removal, a decision that stemmed from his social media posts.
Aragon reposted photos to Twitter on Dec. 3 that showed Columbus police officers standing with members of the Proud Boys, who were in Clintonville to protest a holiday drag story hour event — which was canceled due to safety concerns. Aragon also posted on Facebook he believed Columbus police, city council, and the mayor “don’t give a f— about us.”
Days later, Mayor Andrew Ginther called — via a post on Facebook — for Aragon to resign. In the post, Ginther said Aragon showed clear “bias against law enforcement.”
“He has identified himself as a person who is working against police to keep the community safe,” Ginther wrote.
The 8-1 vote at the Dec. 19 meeting to recommend Aragon’s removal was for “neglect of duty,” to which only one member objected to.
“A neglect of duty charge without us even having a discussion about that with the board member themselves, to me, seems like an odd recommendation for us to make,” Kyle Strickland said at the Dec. 19 meeting. Strickland was the member who voted against Aragon’s removal.
After the vote, Ginther sent Aragon a letter in early January outlining Ginther’s intent to remove Aragon, informing him of the charges against him, and telling him he had a right to a hearing before the council, according to Brian Shinn, the city attorney’s deputy chief of staff.
Aragon — whose Twitter bio has read “Removed ex-member of the Cbus Civilian Police Review Board” — did not request a hearing before Jan. 20, the deadline given by the city. He said in an earlier interview he did not regret the posts.
Rob Dorans, the council president pro tempore, told other council members Monday night that the board needs to clarify its policies and processes for future removals.
“This will ensure the independence of the board, its members, and allow for everyone to have a better understanding of the process, so that personal viewpoints of review board members — even if unpopular, but ultimately not influencing decision-making regarding matters before the board — are protected,” Dorans said.
Legislation on that is in the works, he said.
The Civilian Police Review Board is currently short two members, with a meeting scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. Former board member Aaron Thomas resigned in August 2022 — one day after Ricky Anderson, a now-former Columbus police officer who retired in bad standing, fatally shot 20-year-old Donovan Lewis. Thomas said in a statement he did not believe the board’s work would bring changes to Columbus policing.