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Rep. Russo: Black Ohioans are not okay

Calls for immediate, sweeping reforms to address racism after weekend protests across Ohio
June 2, 2020
C. Allison Russo News

COLUMBUS—Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) released a statement today following the weekend’s protests throughout the state:

“Racism is a public health crisis--one that continues to inflict deep trauma on our nation, state, and communities,” Rep. Russo said.  “The time for study groups and taskforces is over.  We know what is wrong with our system, and it is our job now to fix it.  We must stand with our communities of color to denounce racism, have those uncomfortable conversations, and take strong, decisive actions if we are to have a society that is truly equitable.”

Following the deaths of Tamir Rice and John Crawford, Governor John Kasich formed The Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations in 2014. The Task Force issued its final report April 2015, and the legislature funded several of its key recommendations including a database on use of force and officer-involved shootings, a public awareness campaign, and state-provided assistance with policymaking and manuals.

Republicans, however, have cut this funding each year, and with a month left in the state’s fiscal year, Democrats are urging the Director of Budget and Management to transfer up to $2.2 million to the Statewide Community Police Relations Fund to implement these key recommendations.

Democrats have also introduced numerous bills to address inequality and racial disparity issues, but few have seen any movement. Bills include criminal justice reform, equality, gun safety, increasing the minimum wage and prohibiting discrimination in various forms. Additionally, Democrats continue to call for increased diversity and inclusion efforts throughout the state.

In contrast, House Republicans scheduled a hearing this week of chaos and racial unrest for HB 381, so-called stand your ground, a law which has led to the killing of many black and brown people throughout the country.

Additional examples of bills sponsored by House Republicans that adversely impact minority communities this General Assembly limit access to the ballot box (HB 680), threaten prevailing wage (HB 78, HB 663), allow hate speech on college campuses (HB 88), allow concealed weapons to be carried without a license (HB 178), and multiple bills (HB 617, HB 618, HB 649, HB 671, HB 682) that limit the authority of the Governor and the Director of Health to combat COVID-19 – a virus disproportionately affecting minority communities.