With the jury expected to begin deliberating soon in the Derek Chauvin murder trial of George Floyd, the effects of the ruling will be felt across the country. Columbus and Franklin County officials joined area community leaders this afternoon in calling for calm regardless of the verdict.
First Church of God Bishop Timothy Clarke referred to it as a call for peace, but also a cry for justice.
"The absence of justice necessitates the absence of peace," First Church of God Bishop Timothy Clarke continued. "But where there is justice, peace not only prevails, it is almost simultaneous. We want to implore our city and our citizenry to please, even if you protest, to do it peacefully and to do it knowing that all of us are fighting for justice, and we are demanding justice."
Floyd's death last year sparked nationwide protests, including in the Columbus area. An independent investigator last month ordered six Columbus officers to cooperate with a probe into allegations of police brutality during anti-racism protests last summer. A federal lawsuit filed in July on behalf of more than two dozen Columbus protesters seeks monetary damages for injuries sustained in those clashes with police. The lawsuit describes peaceful demonstrators and bystanders being beaten, fired on with wooden and rubber bullets, and unlawfully arrested during protests in late May and June.
An unrelated event Saturday near Ohio State's campus known as Chitt Fest resulted in a large crowd and at least seven cars flipped over according to a Lantern reporter, but no arrests.
Kiara Yakita with the Black Liberation Movement challenged city officials to honor the theme of non-violence with their actions too.
"Violence is more than destruction and chaos and burning things and flipping things and destroying property much like the OSU students did at their Chitt Fest," Yakita continued. "Violence is also silence. Violence is complacency. Violence is inaction. Violence is publicity stunts. Violence is empty speeches. Violence is promises unfulfilled. So I challenge you, the city of Columbus, to do something other than just sit on social media and complain about these murders. We take to the streets because we want peace."
City leaders say they are making changes, noting the forming of a Civilian Police Review Board and the upcoming selection of a new police chief outside of Columbus as part of their efforts to reimagine policing.
A mostly peaceful protest last week regarding the death of 27-year-old Miles Jackson, spilled into Columbus Police headquarters resulting in one arrest and an officer injured.
Investigations and court proceedings are ongoing in the deaths of Casey Goodson Jr. and Andre Hill, who were both killed by law enforcement in separate incidents in December.