COLUMBUS (WCMH) — It’s been one month since George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis. His death sparked protests nationwide including in Columbus. In the month since his death, some action has been taken in the capital city but protesters say they want more.
“It doesn’t feel like a month,” said Tawanna who said she only wanted to go by her first name. “It feels like this happened yesterday because we’re in the same world. We’re in the same system. Nothing has truly, truly changed.”
She’s been at most of the protests during the past four weeks. When demonstrations first started, things were tense between protesters and police and turned violent. Peace prevailed a couple days later as Police Chief Thomas Quinlan, other officers, and Mayor Andrew Ginther walked and talked with demonstrators.
“Not everything is just going to change within a snap,” said Essence Farmer. “So, I feel like it is going to take a little bit more time to get to where we really want to see.”
In the weeks since protests started, racism has been declared a public health crisis in Columbus, there’s a police chief’s advisory panel and Columbus City Council announced its plans for change in public safety.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther also announced plans for a civilian review board and directed police not to use tear gas and only use pepper spray if people are violent. He also signed an executive order that’ll have Columbus Police involved deaths investigated at a state level.
“We know we’ll get through this together, stronger, and better for it,” said Mayor Ginther during an address on Wednesday. “But it will be painful. It will be messy. It’ll be one of the greatest challenges our community has ever faced.”
Protesters recognize what’s been done but want to see more.
“If you can say it’s a step, it is one very small step. But I want to see it. I don’t want to hear it,” Tawanna said.
After weeks of mostly peaceful protesting, repeated vandalism, control over city streets, and what police say sometimes turned into dangerous behavior again led to some clashes. Things are peaceful again as the city works for change.
“We have to deal with years and years and years of racism that’s been built into this country,” Tawanna said. “It’s not going to demolish overnight. It’s not. But we can every single day do something that prevents racism.”