The murder of George Floyd has led to demonstrations to demand justice across the country. We have witnessed here in Ohio the unprovoked killings of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old child in Cleveland, and John Crawford in Beavercreek.
In Columbus this past weekend, my friend Congresswoman Joyce Beatty joined protesters alongside Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin and Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce. The scene was peaceful, but understandably tense, and while trying to de-escalate a confrontation, the three elected officials were pepper sprayed by police officers.
And just a couple of weekends ago, House Democratic Leader Emilia Sykes herself received a call from an unknown man calling from her father state Sen. Vernon Sykes’ phone number, threatening his life unless she stepped down.
The pain and trauma that black folks are feeling across our nation is real. I feel it for our children, our grandchildren, our nieces and nephews — all the young people in our lives who are looking to us for answers. My own father was a sit-in protester during the civil rights movement before he later served in the army and elected office, and it hurts my heart to think that his work is still unfinished all these years later.
The other side wants us to think that everything is hopeless, that violence must be met with violence, that we all should adopt an us-against-them attitude, that we can’t change anything.
But as Americans, as Ohioans, as people, we are better than that. We must address systemic racism for all non-whites, attacking the policies that affect education, housing, healthcare and social justice. Now is the time to stand up and speak out.
As the first woman to serve as Ohio Senate Minority Leader and mayor of Dayton, I understand the challenges facing our cities’ leaders right now. But we must change our policies and laws so that law enforcement agencies are fully accountable to the public and the communities they are sworn to protect.
This is the time when all people must take a stand. We can begin by registering to vote, pledging to vote and being an educated voter. In the words of Fannie Lou Hamer, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
And the State of Ohio must join us in declaring racism to be a public health emergency — a crucial step in moving forward in the fight for equality.
Ohio Democratic Party
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