Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein and a few Columbus community leaders gathered at the Michael B. Coleman Government Center for a press conference addressing plans to “reform the culture of justice in Columbus.”
Klein, who has been urged to improve the systematic problems with policing, acknowledged during the press conference that “there’s systematic racism in every step of government.”
Asking the rhetorical question, What are we going to do about it?, Klein followed with, “The time for action is now.”
Those who spoke at the press conference also included:
- Elder Larry Price, chairman of the Criminal and Justice Committee and Columbus chapter of the NAACP
- Stephanie Hightower, president of CEO of the Columbus Urban League
- Pastor Frederick LaMarr, president of the Baptist Pastor’s Conference of Columbus
LaMarr led off the discussion, delivering a message to “set aside differences to bring about real reform.”
Klein then made a few brief comments before giving Hightower and Price a chance to speak.
“Racism should’ve never been a part of the American epic,” Hightower said.
Price, who will also be speaking on behalf of the NAACP on Friday at 12 p.m., asking for a citizen review board in Columbus.
“The oldest, boldest, baddest organization on the earth now says, It is time. Enough is enough,” Price said.
Klein outlined the immediate actions that the Columbus government is going to take to reform systematic racism in the police department.
They are outlined as follows:
- Appoint special counsel from outside of the city to investigate the ongoing protests in Columbus, something that was also done in Charlottesville
- Conduct a review of the Columbus Police Department’s procedures of clearing the streets of peaceful protests
- Change the Columbus Division of Police’s use of chemical agents against nonviolent protesters
- Submitted evidence to the Columbus Division of Police Internal Affairs Bureau of uses of chemical agents and encourage Columbus citizens
- Create a citizen review board
- Move charging decisions for alleged misdemeanor criminal offenses to inside the Columbus city attorney’s office for review before they are filed
- Conduct a review of the Columbus City Code
- Achieve police-community reform
Klein then took time after outlining the city’s plan to answer questions from the media. A topic addressed in those questions included mention of the treatment of reporters in Columbus, specifically from The Lantern.
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