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Columbus Civilian Police Review board member says he's not surprised his comments caused other members to vote for his removal

Proud Boys protest 12-3-22
Matthew Rand/NPR
Members of the Proud Boys, a group known for hateful rhetoric against the LGBTQ community, protested a family-friendly story hour featuring performances from drag queens, that was scheduled to happen at the Red Oak Community School.

A member of the Columbus Civilian Police Review Board says he was not surprised that members overwhelmingly voted to remove him from the board following his reaction to police actions at a protest of a drag queen story hour.

Gambit Aragon posted on social media several defamatory statements about police who responded to the protest that included members of the Proud Boys. One officer was seen high-fiving a member of the far-right group.

"Anytime that anyone really sort of shows themselves or really sort of you know, makes such a strong statement, especially against, you know, the police department or the mayor, there's going to be some, some reaction from other board members that would result in this,” says Aragon.

Aragon says his presence as a member of the LGBTQ community is needed on the board. "I think it's important for a member of the board to be representative of a community that has been historically and presently impacted by police brutality and misconduct,” says Aragon.

Aragon defends his actions. “They just want to take away the attention from the fact that we had what quite literally, like domestic terrorist groups walking around our city, intimidating our residents and quite literally targeting some of the most marginalized folks in in our community,” says Aragon.

Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant offered her support for CPD officer Steven Dyer who interacted with the Proud Boys. Bryant said he was working to establish trust through direct communication and helped facilitate a peaceful protest that ended with no arrests and no injuries.

Columbus City Council will have the final say on the decision to remove Aragon.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.