The involvement of the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division in the affairs of the Columbus Police Department stretches back more than 20 years. Every instance to their intervention follows the same pattern. Local outrage leads to court cases which then lead to attorneys involved which then leads to the Justice Department stepping in. What follows next is a change in presidential administrations which leads to a change priorities, or in the case of the Trump administration outright removal of the pretense of priorities, which is then followed by half measures or consequences.
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When a teenager dies in a hail of police bullets family and community are traumatized. When that happens in Columbus the teenager is invariably not actually a danger to the police who execute them. After the murder, the City of Columbus is not content to merely smear the victim and hide behind attorneys, the police union, and their badges. There is a developing escalation, where any witnesses and t to the murder and their families are prosecuted. This is what is happening in the wake of the police killings of both Julius Tate Jr.
“Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories...” – Amilcar Cabral
Protestors confront City Council over Summer Strike Force Policing program, Council Ends meeting, hides in back room
Led by the People's Justice Partnership and relatives of Henry Green and Tyre King nearly 200 people took over City Council Chambers during their weekly meeting to demand justice. City Authorities had prepared new roadblocks to public participation for the event including requiring photo identification to enter the building and extra police on hand. New rules were in place limiting the total number of people permitted to attend the meeting to fewer than the total number of seats in Council Chambers.
On July 14 a forum on police community relations was held at the New Birth Christian Ministries on Refugee Road. The turnout, which included City Council Staffers and off duty police was less than half the size of recent local protests against police murder. There was a panel discussion which included a Westerville police department representative, City Council President Zach Klein, three representatives of the Columbus Police Department and Civil Rights Attorney Sean Walton.
“We do not come to this plaza to mourn where he fell, we come to you, we return to the living. There were others before him remember? Yes, you remember. But then the blood was hidden, it was so far. The South's rain washed it from the Earth, far far away. The People's death was as it has always been, as if no-one had died, nothing. As if they were stones falling to the Earth.
After the murder of police murders of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in St Paul, activists working for justice for the murder of Henry Green V redoubled their efforts with two events in two days and the promise of many more to come. Both were attended by large crowds. The mood at the first was somber and defiant while the mood at the second was just defiant.
Henry Green was murdered by police in his own neighborhood on June 6. He was shot without warning by plainclothes police who were there as part of a summer program that is alternately called a “Community” policing program or a “Summer Safety” program. Only the Columbus Police Department is investigating his murder. As his family, along with community organizers from his neighborhood press the city leaders for some real initiative towards justice those leaders have further entrenched themselves and their programs.
On June 6th Henry Green was a block from his home in Linden with a friend. Henry Green was 23 and a law abiding citizen with a conceal carry permit. He was armed. Two men rolled up in an SUV jumped out and shot and killed him. They only said “Stop! Stop! Stop!” and then fired before Henry Green could react. They were later identified as police in plainclothes.