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Contact Info 90 West Broad St.
Columbus, OH 43215


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Statement from Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown on First Amendment Rights, Demilitarization

[COLUMBUS, OH] The following statement can be attributed in full, or in part, to President Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown:  

"Meaningful change to safeguard Black lives in Columbus is urgent. We must move faster, and as we do so, the Columbus Division of Police must respect through their actions the paramount role that First Amendment rights play in a healthy, safe, and free society.

"Frankly, the importance of the First Amendment is so great that safeguarding these rights should be basic. What is harder is the critical and arduous work ahead to change policing in our city and leave Columbus better than we found it for the next generation. I am concerned that this straightforward work of respecting free speech continues to present a challenge for the Division of Police when much harder work lies ahead.

"I support the organizers in our city’s streets expressing their First Amendment rights not just in the service of the demand for change, but also in the celebration of Black lives. I believe that meaningful change starts with the central question, 'How do we keep every resident safe?' We know the current and long-standing system isn't doing that. The answers and the path forward for our community lie in the voices of those who are fighting to be heard right now. We all must listen.

"Further, we need to talk about the tools our police department uses. We cannot build a paramilitary operation and expect officers employed by it to keep the peace. The presence of police should never look and feel to residents like we are at war. That is why, as chair of the council’s Finance Committee, I plan to hold hearings to update our purchasing code, which currently allows the Columbus Division of Police to buy equipment that only belongs in the hands of military operations. We will hold these police demilitarization hearings before the July 4th holiday."