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Columbus City Attorney Dropping All Curfew Violation Charges Against Protesters

Columbus Police confront protesters at a demonstration downtown on June 2, 2020.
Paige Pfleger
Columbus Police confront protesters at a demonstration downtown on June 2, 2020.

Columbus is planning to dismiss all charges against those arrested for breaking curfew during the last few weeks' protests.

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein tweeted Tuesday that 19 of the 28 curfew-related cases have already been dismissed, and added that no one is in jail for curfew or other misdemeanor arrests related to the protests.

“A majority, if not all of these curfew violators, were arrested and spent time in police custody, and as a result, we made the decision that that was punishment enough for the curfew violation,” Klein said.

Mayor Andrew Ginther lifted the city's 10 p.m. curfew on Saturday, a week after it went into effect. However, Columbus Police essentially stopped enforcing the curfew several days before.

Klein’s office will also sit in on the review of both allegations of violence by protesters, and accusations of misconduct by Columbus Police officers.

“We will help make a determination of the allegations of misconduct and hold those accountable,” Klein says.

Potential actions could span from disciplinary action, such as a reprimand or termination, to criminal charges.

“We will make a recommendation of whether that person be investigated for an employment discipline or potentially prosecuted criminally," Klein says. "It’s going to be based on the facts of each case."

Klein is also looking for broader police reforms.Last Wednesday, he introduced eight proposals that included an independent audit of police-crowd interaction during the first week of protests.

Klein also called for a review of policies and procedures on clearing streets, a review of traffic and pedestrian offenses in the city code to avoid racial profiling, and an independent citizen review board with subpoena power to investigate police use-of-force cases.

“We have to make sure that we police our community in a way that our community expects, and having a civilian review board is instrumental in getting that done," Klein said.

Several Columbus City Council members also expressed support for a citizen review board, and Mayor Andrew Ginther said he would form a working group on the topic by July. However, the creation of such a review board is limited by the current police union contract. 

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.