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Ohio State Fair bans sale of Confederate flag items

614now Staff

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Following in the footsteps of the Illinois State Fair and the New York State Fair, the Ohio State Fair is saying a firm ‘no’ to the Confederate flag.

The flag has been a hot topic in recent weeks since a young racist killed nine people in a South Carolina church. (Photos associated the shooter and his views with the flag.) Since then, opponents of the flag have been vocal and active. Major retailers have moved to end sales of items that depict the Confederate flag. The TV Land network has pulled reruns of the series The Dukes of Hazzard due to the flag’s appearance atop the show’s iconic car, the General Lee. And the state of South Carolina moved to remove the flag from the state’s capitol grounds. Some of these reactions have been praised more than others. The South Carolina state capitol action for example was greeted with much fanfare. The canceling of The Dukes of Hazzard was viewed by many as being over the top.

Officials with the Ohio State Fair have sent a letter to incoming merchants saying that “any vendors found to be selling any items featuring the image of the confederate flag will be asked to promptly remove those items.” The move continues the fair’s “long held policy that prohibits the sale of merchandise that contains offensive wording, lettering or graphics.”

The 2015 Ohio State Fair begins its run July 29th and goes through August 9th.  (jj)

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Coronavirus

Franklin County requires mask, even if state order expires

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Even when the state mandate requiring facial covering expires, Franklin County residents will still need to mask up.

The Franklin County Board of Health released an emergency order on Tuesday that says regardless of the county’s COVID-19 emergency rating, the mask mandate will stay in effect for Franklin County residents until otherwise noted.

Gov. Mike DeWine said the state mandate requiring facial coverings for all counties at a Level 3 emergency would no longer be in place if local cases decreased, and Franklin County was downgraded in the state’s emergency rating accordingly.

However, this new order means that will no longer be the case–the county facial covering requirement now supersedes the state facial covering requirement.

This past Tuesday, the Columbus City Council passed an ordinance that would require a mask in most public settings or non-compliers will face a $25 fine. The new ordinance began with an executive order the Thursday prior, but at that time no fine was attached as a penalty for skipping the mask.

How do you feel about the handling of the mask mandates? Who should have the final say? Sound off below!

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Govt & Politics

Hate group discussion gives historical context to policing

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Current CPD screening process explained

Columbus City Councilmember and Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee Shayla Favor held an informative and at times eye-opening public hearing regarding the expansion of hate group affiliation background checks. 

Although no legislation was announced during the discussion, the point of the meeting was to have educational and collaborative conversations with experts in the field of systematic racism, psychology, and policing. Favor did mention that legislation defining more strict background checks for police officers potentially in hate groups or possibly affiliating with those groups would be drafted by the end of the month.

At the time of publication, Columbus City Council couldn’t say if a Columbus police officer was affiliated with a hate group.

Two-plus hours of presentations held by those representing education (Dr. Judson L. Jefferies, an OSU professor in the Department of African American and African Studies), civil service (Amy DeLong, executive director of the Civil Service Commission), and police (Richard Blunt II, Safety Manager of the Background Investigations segment of the CPD) preceded public testimony.

During the discussion, bits of historical facts and information were inserted giving a more robust understanding to the context of the topic. For example, there are 1,000 to 1,100 hate groups in the United States that we’re able to identify, according to Jefferies. Jefferies also pointed out that there is less concern about the number of members, and more concern about the number of supporters. 

He also mentioned that in the 1960s, police would post ads to recruit Southern-minded people to become police officers in Chicago and Los Angeles. Jefferies did acknowledge that being a police officer is the hardest job of any street bureaucrat because they see the worst of the human condition.

The current screening process of the CPD, as it pertains to hate group affiliation, was presented by Blunt. This is what it looks like::

  • Personal History Statement (PSH)—Undetected Acts
    • At any time in your life have you ever committed a hate crime?
    • Are you now, or have you ever been a member or associate of a criminal enterprise, street gang, or any group that advocates violence against individuals because of their race, religion, political affiliation, ethnic origin, nationality, gender, sexual preference, or disability?
    • Has any member of your family ever been a member of, or associated with any, street gang or organized criminal enterprise such as outlaw motorcycle groups, prison gangs, or tagging crews?
    • Do you have, or have you ever had, a tattoo signifying membership in, or affiliation with, a criminal enterprise, street gang, or any group that advocates violence against individuals because of their race, religion, political affiliation, ethnic origin, nationality, or gender.
  • Tattoo Policy 
    • Shall have no visible tattoos on the head, neck, or hands 
    • Shall have no tattoos that depict obscene, gang-related, extremist or otherwise offensive images, which may bring the Division into disrepute 
    • Visible and exposed tattoos are photographed
  • Polygraph Examination
    • Taken to an ID UNIT where they are fingerprinted and taken photographs of their visible and exposed tattoos
    • Pre-interview to meet with background investigator and go over PSH with candidate one more time
    • Taken to polygraph unit where they answer over 100 questions before being hooked up to a polygraph, some being:
      • To your knowledge, have you, your spouse, significant other, any member of your family, or close friends ever been associated with any subversive, radical, or terrorist organization, such as hate groups or gangs?
      • Have you ever posted offensive, derogatory, or racist material to social media?
    • Right before the polygraph, the candidate is given four documents called mind maps, which include falsifying information, illegal substance use, sex offenses, serious crimes (hate crimes, racially-motivated crimes, gang membership, terrorist sympathizer), and to tell the interviewee if anything comes to mind that the candidate hasn’t already discussed.
    • Once hooked up to the polygraph, they will be asked if they are concealing any of those crimes, and will come up with one of three results:
      • Deception indicated
      • No deception indicated
      • Inconclusive

With that being known, there are definitely improvements to be made in how the CPD does intensive background checks when it comes to hate group affiliation. By the end of July, the Columbus City Council hopes to have legislation drafted on hate-group screening.

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Crime

Increase in gun violence this past weekend causes city alarm

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After eight shootings this weekend Mayor Andrew J. Ginther gathered with city officials at the Point of Pride building on Monday afternoon to discuss the alarming uptick in neighborhood violence and how the city is going to address it.

The eight shootings over the weekend involved 10 people. Three people all under the age of 26 were murdered in the shootings, the youngest being 15-year-old Marcus Peters.

Since June 1, five teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 have been killed due to gun violence, while 14 others were critically injured.

The surge in gun violence includes a 77 percent increase in shots being blindly fired into residences, 78 percent of homicides due to firearms, and 67 homicides and 469 felonious assaults, which is a 125-percent increase in felonious assaults from 2019, in 2020.

“This problem belongs to each and every one of us, and we must bring all of our resources together to address what is happening in our community,” said Ginther.

Some of the suggestions that Ginther mentioned to solving gun violence issues in Columbus included finding productive opportunities for youth during this time and taking illegal guns off the streets.

Those in attendance at the press conference were Public Safety Director Ned Pettus; Police Chief Tom Quinlan; President and CEO of the Columbus Urban League Stephanie Hightower; Interim Director of Recreation and Parks Paul Rakosky; My Brother’s Keeper Program Manager and Department of Neighborhoods member Chris Suel; and Senior Pastor of City of Grace Church Michael Young. 

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