COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Sunday was a national day of protest, and Columbus recognized the day when dozens of families gathered at the Ohio Statehouse to protest police brutality.
Protesters were asking for accountability and justice by sharing how they lost their loved ones, while organizers said the protest was about telling their stories in more than one way.
One of those ways was through an art installation made out of shoes.
“We know that more than 1,200 Ohioans have been lost to police violence since the year 2000,” Ohio Families United for Political Action and Change (OFUPAC) Organizing Director Elaine Schleiffer said. “We wanted to represent the loss that that is, the empty shoes, that there’s no replacing those family members.”
OFUPAC is a non-profit organization that unites families who have lost loved ones in officer-involved shootings.
For many of those who turned out to Sunday’s protest, the issue hits close to home. Sabrina Jordan lost her son in an officer-involved shooting in 2017 just outside of Dayton.
“We’re just here also, to, like, celebrate and love each other,” Jordan, who is also OFUPAC’s founder, said. “You know, connect.”
Tania Hudson’s son was fatally shot by a Columbus police officer in 2015.
“We’re asking accountability,” she said. “Officers be drug tested when they’re involved in a shooting, alcohol test. We understand that they have trauma and drama, too.”
The city’s police union, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), said there is already accountability in place.
“Accountability? How much more accountability can they ask for,” FOP Executive Vice President Brian Steel said. “We have an internal affairs. We have an inspector general’s office. We’re investigated by BCI in, say, a police-involved shooting, in a grand jury of our peers. There’s literally no more accountability that can be put on police officers today.”
“Accountability is pretty much all that we can ask for,” Hudson said. “We can’t say justice – ours is gone. There will never be justice for us, but we’re out here trying to save other people’s lives. That’s why we’re constantly out here.”
Protestors also mentioned their frustration with Marsy’s Law, which was originally passed to protect the victims of violent crimes, but which was extended to allow law enforcement departments to shield officers’ names when they are involved in a shooting. Protesters think this shouldn’t be the case while Steel said it’s an important protection for officers who are victims of violent crimes.