Ohio Faith Leaders Respond to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Private Meeting with Columbus Police Department

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 2, 2017

 

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Michelle Nealy, mnealy@faithinpubliclife.org, (202)735-7123

Dan Clark, dclark@faithinpubliclife.org, (614)614-3663

Ohio Faith Leaders Respond to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Private Meeting with Columbus Police Department

Columbus, OH -- On Wednesday, August 2nd, Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a private meeting with Columbus Division of Police at the Training Academy to speak on the Ohio’s opiate epidemic. Mayor Andrew Ginther was also in attendance. Faith and community leaders gathered outside the academy to oppose Sessions’ record of bigotry and emphasize that treating people suffering from drug addiction as felons is inhumane, immoral and undermines their ability to recover.

Pastor Jason Ridley, Hilltop Community Worship Center, Columbus, OH:

"Last year Ohio led the nation in opioid overdose deaths and we are well on our way to leading the nation again this year. Who we need here is the Surgeon General but we end up with Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, speaking to the Columbus Police Department today on the opioid crisis.  This only perpetuates a broken system where big corporations and wealthy individuals profit off of people's pain through the industrial prison pipeline because we choose to treat their opioid addiction as criminal, when in fact they are victims in need of our help.”

 

Father Charles Wilson, St. Philip Episcopal Church, Columbus, OH:

"It seems counter-intuitive to me to hold a closed door meeting on an issue, opioid abuse, that we have been told, and which the faith communities agree, affects us all. A robust community conversation seems more appropriate with those charged to enforce our laws. For the police and the attorney general to talk strategy or plot campaigns behind closed doors gives one the uncomfortable feeling that we're only going to get more "war" instead of peaceful, pastoral, public planning in caring for those broken by the scourge of drugs.”

Rev. Dan Clark, St. John’s United Church of Christ, Columbus, OH:

"My politics tell me this is the home of the free and the land of the brave. My faith tells me that every person is made in the image of God and therefore deserves dignity and respect. But Attorney General Sessions has not shown us that he understands or lives with freedom, bravery, dignity, or respect. Rather he leads with fear and bigotry. The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis, just like gun violence. An amped up war on drugs with aggressive policing in communities of color and maximum sentencing for drug possession does not make Ohio or America better, safer or greater. We need community based solutions and leadership from officials who represent the best of America future, not the worst of America’s racist past."

 

Rev. Lynda Smith, Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio, Columbus, OH:

“I pray that everyone is kept safe in the city of Columbus, in every neighborhood and every police precinct. We need to learn how to talk to each other as one human being to another. I have great faith in humanity and in this city that we can do it and we can be safer together.”

 

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