An Ohio judge has barred the Columbus Division of Police from using weaponry like tear gas, rubber bullets or pepper spray to disperse non-violent protesters in an injunction issued on Friday.
Judge Algenon L. Marbley issued an order on Friday in relation to a lawsuit brought against the City of Columbus by a group of protesters who say they were attacked by police officers during the protests over the death of George Floyd last summer. Floyd died while being arrested in Minnesota in May of 2020.
In his 88-page order, Marbley said that “this case is the sad tale of police officers, clothed with the awesome power of the state, run amok.”
The order bars Columbus police officers from “using non-lethal force, including tear gas, pepper spray, flash-bang grenades, rubber bullets, wooden pellets, batons, body slams, pushing or pulling, or kettling” in order to disperse non-violent protesters. The order also mandates that officers identify protesters who are “chanting, verbally confronting police, sitting, holding their hands up when approaching police occupying streets or sidewalks, and/or passively resisting police order” as nonviolent.
The order also requires that body cameras be used during any interaction between protesters and police.
“Unfortunately, some of the members of the Columbus Police Department had no regard for the rights secured by this bedrock principle of American democracy,” Marbley wrote in the opinion in reference to the First Amendment.
The order comes as the Columbus Division of Police faces backlash for its treatment of Ohioans throughout protests prompted by Floyd’s death last year.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein and a coalition of Ohio activist groups have all called on the Department of Justice to investigate the Columbus police.
“This is not about one particular officer, policy, or incident; rather, this is about reforming the entire institution of policing in Columbus,” said Ginther and Klein in a letter sent to the DOJ. “Simply put: We need to change the culture of the Columbus Division of Police.”
The order also follows a recent report released by Ohio State University that highlights how the police department was unprepared for protests and riots, resulting in a lack of coordination between city leaders and a mishandling of the protests.
The current order is preliminary and will remain in place until the conclusion of the lawsuit.
Read the full order from Marbley here.
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