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Ohio State Student Government Demands Divestment From Columbus Police

The Ohio State University campus sign
Angie Wang
Associated Press

Ohio State University's student government is calling on the university to break ties with Columbus Police.

"We, the student representatives of The Ohio State University, firmly and without hesitation, condemn the violent and inexcusable actions of the Columbus Police Department during these protests and harm the department has caused Black and marginalized communities for decades," reads a letter from the Undergraduate Student Government, Council of Graduate Students, and Inter-Professional Council.

The groups sent a letter to university officials Monday listing five demands, including a call for the Ohio State Police department to cease contractual agreements with the department.

“Our city is burning, our students are hurting, the safety and wellbeing on the Black community is at inherent risk and there is no other time to act than now,” they write.

The letter references not just the Columbus Police response to protests over the weekend, where officers fired tear gas and wooden projectilesat demonstrators, but also the killings of Julius Tate Jr., Henry Green and Tyre King in recent years.

“We can no longer accept bias trainings, reactionary meetings, or community dialogue,” the letter continues.

The student governments also ask Ohio State Police to re-evaulate joint patrol operations and limit the frequency of Columbus Police calls to off-campus residences. And they urge the schools' Department of Public Safety to release an action plan for black student safety, and for the school to reject any military-grade resources from the federal government and reduce the budget for such resources.

The letter closes by asking for a public and private response within two days.

In an emailed statement, an Ohio State spokesman said, "As President Drake wrote on Saturday, George Floyd suffered a horrendous and completely unnecessary death. His killing, and those that have come before, demand that we create a different future. We know our students are hurting, we are here to support them, and we are inspired by their commitment to this cause.

“We must all work together to end abuse, discrimination, bigotry, and hatred. We will be in dialogue with our student government leaders about the specific concerns they have raised," the statement said.

Last Wednesday, the University of Minnesota announced the school would no longer contract with the Minneapolis Police Department for large events and specialized services, although joint patrols and investigations would continue.

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.