Choose Says Columbus Police Ran ‘Amok’ In opposition to Protesters; Restricts Use Of Pressure

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A federal judge has ordered police in Columbus, Ohio to stop using violence, including tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets, against non-violent protesters. He ruled that officials were running amok during protests against George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis last summer.

Judge Algenon Marbley of the Southern District of Ohio described The actions of the Columbus Police as “the sad story of officers wearing the incredible power of the state run amok.”

He opened his 88-page statement with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr: “But somewhere I read about freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read about freedom of speech. Somewhere I read about freedom of the press. Somewhere I read that The greatness of America is the law to protest for rights. “

Marbley joined the 26 plaintiffs who protested last summer, ruling that “unfortunately, some members of the Columbus Police Department have failed to respect the rights established by this fundamental principle of American democracy”. Columbus police used force “indiscriminately” and without provocation during widespread protests last May and June, he wrote.

The lawsuit related not only to extreme non-lethal tactics used by police on otherwise non-violent demonstrators, but also accused the police of collective punishment in response to an individual demonstrator who “threw a water bottle, molested or mocked an officer” , gas the whole group by randomly splashing pepper or tears – according to Marbley. “What’s more, [officers] Sometimes there were no audible warnings or insufficient time to disperse before resorting to less lethal force, “the judge wrote.

One of the plaintiffs was hit by a projectile when police ordered protesters to disperse on video shows, as ordered. “In other words, the protesters didn’t have time to react,” said Marbley. A 31-year-old plaintiff’s knee was “broken into many small pieces” and the judge ordered him not to walk for five months. The man still cannot walk more than half a mile without “significant pain”.

“Several witnesses have testified to the physical and emotional injuries suffered by CPD officials while exercising their basic rights to meet and protest,” the judge wrote last year.

According to the interim disposalColumbus officials are prohibited from using these “non-lethal violence” methods against non-violent demonstrators, including those who sing, verbally confront police and occupy streets. These include body slams, lightning grenades, rubber bullets, batons, and pushers.

NPR’s efforts to reach out to the Columbus Police Department for comment have been unsuccessful.

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