We are a collection of African American community leaders and involved citizens and our allies who are calling for the federal protection from a rogue division of police that has a pattern and practice of violating our community’s rights under the Constitution of the United States of America and the country’s various federally-ensured civil rights. We seek federal protection because for the past decades city political leadership has failed in that task. We will support our call for federal oversight by providing collecting and the testimony of Columbus residents who have experienced such lawless policing since the DOJ last investigated Columbus in 1998.
To submit a Black community request for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into constitutional and civil rights law violations against our people by the Columbus Division of Police. Read it Here
To gather public testimony and submit affidavits alleging a continuing pattern and practice of abusive policing by the Columbus Division of Police against the city’s Black citizens in violation of the U.S. Constitution (Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments) and federal civil rights.
To receive and process the testimony of advocates and allies who experienced police abuse during the George Floyd protests and last summer’s other protests of Columbus policing and submit those stories of police misconduct resulting in violations of citizens’ First Amendment right to petition the government for redress.
Read our Interim Report
After spending weekends over four months collecting testimony and sworn affidavits from whistle-blowers and residents impacted by unconstitutional policing, the Project received a phone call from Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, of the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights. Attorney Clarke knew of the Columbus Police Accountability Project through our earlier correspondences, and she understood clearly our effort and differences with the City political leadership’s contact with the COPS Division of the DOJ. The City political leadership effort is designed by the city to receive grants and technical assistance, rather than the accountability and federal oversight sought by the Black community. The project decided to send Assistant Attorney General Clarke a letter with excerpts from testimony received that show clearly that the city did not honor its past representations to the DOJ, which resulted in the DOJ dismissing its lawsuit against the city for its policing in 2001. We found through sworn testimony and show in this letter the city did not honor its 2001 promises, leaving citizens exposed to continuing abusive and unlawful policing:
- Columbus police did not resolve the long-standing problems with its internal investigations of rogue officers.
- Columbus police continue to engage in unlawful uses of force.
- Columbus police continue to engage in racialized policing and racial profiling.
- Columbus police have have a corrupted audio and video recording system that does not protect citizens from abuse.
Our findings above came because fellow citizens of all colors and creeds entrusted us with their most painful moments in pursuit of justice for other citizens. We are honored by that trust, and bring these stories to life with them as we all seek a lasting reform. While these stories were collected by Black community leadership, they represent the experiences of all of Columbus.
Despite our requests as Black community leaders to Columbus Black elected officials, we note that not a single Black elected official would agree to sign onto the letter detailing the lived experiences of their constituents. In January, we asked the City Council President, two other members of council, two County Commissioners, two State Representatives, a State Senator, and a U.S. Congresswoman. You know their names. Not a single one would sign our letter, or even send a letter of concern of their own. Please read the letter and call on our elected officials to support the Black community’s leadership, which is standing up for community and for our allies of any race as they stood with us in the summer of protest against police brutality. Have our elected officials of at all levels and of all races stand with us and call on the U.S. Department of Justice to put Columbus police under federal court supervision to protect all Columbus citizens.