Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights 2020

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Columbus City Council investigates police attack on Long Walkers

June 9, 2009
Dear Director Brown,
I am writing today in response to complaints that have been sent to me regarding the conduct of the Columbus Police
Department in recent days. In order for me to develop a fair and accurate view of the situation, I am requesting that your
department prepare a written response on both issues by Tuesday June 10, 2008 at 10am.

Regarding the Longest Walk Organization and their Spiritual Walk that entered Columbus on Monday June 2,
2008, here is the incident summary that I received from one of my constituents:
On Monday, June 2, as this peaceful group walked in the parking lane and on the sidewalk on the west side of Columbus on
Main Street, 8 police cars zoomed up, 1 blocking their way. A police officer came up to a van that follows the walkers and
reached into the window, grabbed and yanked the steering wheel. He yelled at the young woman who was driving a carload
of young children and threatened, “Your children would be taken away and given to Children’s Services!” As the children
began to cry, their mothers who were walking came to see what was wrong and to comfort them. A walker charged with
security came up and was grabbed, kneed, thrown to the ground and handcuffed. A police officer pointed a taser gun at the
head of a walker who was also an attorney as he spoke to the police. A grandmother spoke softly to an officer asking what
the concern was trying to calm a situation that was becoming increasingly frightening. She pointed out “We are like your
mothers, your sisters, your children”. Ultimately the walkers were allowed to continue, but were badly shaken by this
unprovoked and frightening experience.
I would like to have these specific questions answered regarding this incident:
1. If the police officers confronted this group of peaceful activists in the first place as alleged, why?
2. If the officer grabbed the steering wheel of the vehicle and yanked it from the young driver as alleged, why?
3. If, as alleged, the officer threatened to send the children to Children’s Services, why?
4. If, as alleged, the police officers assaulted the individual charged with security, why?
5. Please provide the names, ranks, and discipline files of all officers involved in this incident.
6. Please provide the written documentation of the incident that the officers provided to their leadership.
There are many disturbing aspects to this situation, but I am certain that your department is capable of providing an accurate
assessment of the incident, and I look forward to your timely response.

Regarding the killing of the man from Louisiana on Friday June 6, 2008 in the Mt. Vernon area, numerous
citizens have approached members of Council detailing a failure by the officers involved to use restraint.
Please provide the following:
1. The written documentation of the incident from the officers that filed the report.
2. The names, rank, and discipline file of all officers involved in the incident.
City Hall 90 West Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215-9015
614/645-7380 Fax 614/645-6164
CITY CLERK – Andrea Blevins, CMC
DEPUTYCITY CLERK – Darla Character-Johnson
Page 2
June 9, 2008
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Please be advised that there are residents of the community who are outraged about these incidents as well as others. Some are
planning to march on City Hall as early as today to voice their opposition of the treatment of these residents and/or visitors. I am
concerned that both of these situations occurred at the beginning of the summer season, and as we move forward, it is
imperative that we continue working together to keep our city safe. I look forward to your expeditious response to this inquiry, and
the conversation surrounding it at our scheduled meeting on Tuesday June 10 at 12pm. Thank you.
Charleta B. Tavares
Chair-Health, Housing, and Human Services and Workforce Development Committees
Columbus City Council

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