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Black Law Students Pressure Dean To Join Calls To Sever Ties With CPD

Protesters climb the stairs in the Moritz College of Law building.
Nick Evans
Protesters climb the stairs in the Moritz College of Law building.

More than two dozen people joined a sit-in at the Moritz College of Law organized by the Black Law Students Association. They’re urging Ohio State to sever ties with Columbus police.

CPD has shot and killed seven people since the beginning of 2020, all of them Black. Last summer, OSU student government called on the school to cut ties with them after officers deployed tear gas on protesters. Now Kendall Beard and other Black law students are pushing the law school to weigh in.

“Their inaction is not ok,” Beard says. “We’re requesting that they formally recommend that the Department of Justice launch an investigation into the Columbus police department and we also are asking that they publicly condemn the Columbus police department’s continued history of violence against marginalized communities.”

Beard says they’re particularly focused on convincing law school dean Lincoln Davies to add his voice to those calling for a DOJ probe, “because we want him to make the impact he can in the arena where he has the most leverage, right?”

City leaders have already invited that DOJ review and U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus) has encouraged it as well.

When it comes to their demands to condemn police use of force, BLSA member Candace Milner points to the recent order penned by federal district judge Algenon Marbley.

“This shouldn’t be hard because a district judge who also works here just did it,” she says. “It’s not like it hasn’t been done before, it’s not like there’s not a record he could look to on how to do it.”

The order temporarily prohibits CPD’s use of weapons like pepper spray against non-violent protesters.

Destiny Brown isn’t a law student but she showed up in solidarity with the protesters. She graduates from OSU in a few days and then she’s headed to New Orleans to teach history as a part of Teach for America. Speaking through a bullhorn she argued it’s time to sever ties with the police.

“Especially after Chitt Fest,” she says. “Y’all saw that, and then a couple of days later they murdered a kid? Like what is the point? They’re not keeping us safe.”

Last month about a thousand students gathered on Chittenden Avenue for the traditional party following OSU’s spring football game. The crowd devolved into a riot, flipping cars and breaking windows. Columbus Police did not intervene until much later. Some spectators were quick to compare the hands-off approach taken with a largely white crowd as opposed to the often heavy police presence for crowds of largely Black demonstrators.

Tuesday the following week, Columbus Police officer Nicholas Reardon shot and killed 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.