CentralOhioWorkerCenter & People's Justice Project Statement on Columbus as a Sanctuary City & Police use of Mace
Immigrants and Refugees Hear Love but see Mace
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 1st, 2017
Tammy Fornier-Alsaada, (614) 623-5368, TammyA@ohorganizing.org
Ruben Castilla Herrera, (614) 589-0732, LatinoLeaderShift@gmail.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio – On Monday January 30th, Columbus showed what it can be at its best, as well as just how far we have to go. Mayor Ginther and City Council joined the movement led by immigrants and refugees to name Columbus a "Sanctuary City” and Council Member Elizabeth Brown proposed creating a legal defense fund to protect DACA youth, refugees, and immigrants who could be facing attacks. These are crucial first steps to protecting the rights of the nearly 10% of our community whose lives are at risk under the Trump administration.
In the days and weeks ahead, the city’s timeline must reflect the urgency of the attacks being launched on families. We are excited about the idea of a public process mentioned by Council President Klein to garner input from stakeholders - the success of any initiative depends on the input of people directly affected being at the center of driving the solutions. When the news cycle passes, immigrant and refugee families still need protection. The Mayor’s words must be followed followed by real dollars and real actions.
This act of solidarity contrasted with the scene a few hours later, however. Thousands of Columbus residents gathered at the Ohio Statehouse in a peaceful demonstration against President Trump’s hateful authoritarian policies. Black, Latinxs, Native, Asian, Arab, and white community members marched together through the streets of Columbus and stopped at the intersection of High and State Streets to sing, chant, and pray. Muslim youth, many from families that arrived as refugees, prayed over the gathering. Despite the peaceful nature of the protest, police threatened to arrest and use pepper spray against the crowd. Eventually, they charged into protesters, chasing and spraying people as they ran away.
Right before this escalation by police, a chant cried out “Who do you serve, who do you protect?” A question that the Black community has been demanding an answer to since Henry Green was killed in June, since Tyre King was killed in September, and since Jaron Thomas was killed just a few days ago. In Mayor Ginther’s announcement he said “It is the responsibility of municipal leaders to protect the well being and safety of all people residing in their cities, to respect the rights of and provide equal services to all individuals.” Right now, the Columbus Police do not protect all residents, neighborhoods and communities equally. They must be held accountable for needless escalation on peaceful protesters, for the daily criminalization of poor people and people of color, and for the deaths of unarmed black boys and men in our city.
The idea that Columbus is America’s “Opportunity City” or “Safest Big City” must be met with the same question--for whom? The reality is we live in a tale of two cities where opportunity and safety are only accessible for some. Mayor Ginther said in his address, “Our city codes have been our guiding light, prohibiting discrimination based on race, religion and national origin.” This aspirational calling is what we should strive for together. We must continue to resist any and all of Trump’s policies that threaten the safety of our community and we must define together how to build a true Sanctuary City for all of Columbus residents.
People's Justice Project
Central Ohio Worker Center
Sign on supporters:
Ohio Student Association
Columbus People's Partnership
Ohio Interfaith Immigration and Migrant Coalition
Yes We Can Columbus
International Socialist Organization
Real Food - Ohio State University
Socialist Alternative - Columbus, OH
Showing Up for Racial Justice - Columbus