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100 Columbus Faith Leaders Demand Mayor Ginther Defund the Columbus Division of Police

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 19, 2020

MEDIA CONTACT

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

Austin Schuler, aschuler@faithinpubliclife.org, (540) 280-3393

100 Columbus Faith Leaders Demand Mayor Ginther Defund the Columbus Division of Police

Columbus, Ohio — 100 Columbus faith leaders have issued a letter to Mayor Ginther demanding that he add no new or additional funding to the Columbus Division of Police when he presents his Executive Proposal to Columbus City Council on November 15th. Additionally, Columbus faith leaders are calling on Mayor Ginther to meet with them by October 31st to explain his proposal for 2021 police funding. 

The letter states, “You have heard the cries of the people: ‘Black Lives Matter! Defund the Police!’ But you have not yet acted with courage and clarity to ensure that the aggressive and militarized policing that Columbus has become famous for ends on your watch.” 

“As people of faith, we know that budgets are moral documents. When the city of Columbus spends one third of its budget on policing, we are saying that God values punishment and surveillance over care and connection, and as faith leaders, we know this is not true,” the letter also states.  

To see the letter and full list of signers, click here

To watch a recording of the letter’s release, click here.

Prominent signers include:

Rev. Dr. Tim Ahrens, First Congregational Church; Rev. Dr. Eric Brown, Woodland Christian Church; Dr. Tarunjit Butalia, Sikh Council for Interfaith Relations; Cantor Jack Chomsky, Congregation Tifereth Israel; Rev. Dan Clark, Faith in Public Life; Rev. Greg Henneman, Church for All People; Rev. Gini Lohmann-Bauman, St. John’s United Church of Christ; Rev. David Long-Higgins, Heartland Conference, United Church of Christ; Rev. Joel Miller, Columbus Mennonite Church; Imam Horsed Noah, Somali Islamic Centers of Ohio; Pastor Jason Ridley, Allegheny West Conference, Seventh-day Adventist Church; Rev. Kate Shaner, First Community Church; Rabbi Jessica Shimberg, Kehilat Sukkat Shalom; Rev. Dr. Susan Smith, Crazy Faith Ministries; Rev. Deborah Stevens, Broad Street United Methodist Church; Rev. Joan Van Becelaere, Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio; Bishop Donald Washington, Mt. Hermon Baptist Church.

Adrienne Hood, mother fighting for justice and resting in the arms of Almighty God (whose son Henry Green was killed by Columbus Division of Police on June 6, 2016):

“We can no longer listen to the failed promises of city leaders. There is no more room for patty cake politics! Do your job or we’ll vote you out!” 

Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith, Crazy Faith Ministries:

“The community is tired of being ignored. While we are not saying that all police are bad, there are many rogue police officers whose actions only exacerbate the tension, the pain, and the frustration of their victims. We want funds that have been used to harass people in our community to be diverted and used to help improve conditions in our communities in such a way that people have better schools, jobs, and opportunities that will make such a heavy police presence unnecessary.” 

Rev. Dr. Tim Ahrens, First Congregational Church:

“We need proven strategies, policies and programs in this city to address systemic racism. We need jobs, affordable housing, equitable education and good mental health care for all people in our city. We do not need police helicopters, military gear and operational vehicles, and combat training for our police. They need training which reflects the best values of our community, and it is not warfare against our neighbors.”

Dr. Tarunjit Singh Butalia, Sikh Educational and Religious Foundation:

“Police brutality has systematically impacted black and communities of color. It is time to defund our police and to work towards alternatives to make everyone safe — not just those who are privileged.” 

Rev. Joel Miller, Columbus Mennonite Church: 

“It is past time to reimagine how we meet the most pressing needs of our community. Defunding our current very narrow practice of policing and investing in practices that restore and heal people and neighborhoods will be an important step.” 

Blyth Barnow, Faith in Public Life:

“The Movement for Black Lives is asking us to defund the police and invest in Black communities so that we can truly make our budgets match our morals. We know that God wants us all to have life and have it abundantly, but  we are not living into the fullness of God’s promise until Black communities are properly resourced and respected. The Movement for Black Lives, and other Black-led organizations in Columbus, are reminding us that when we reject fear, white supremacy, and violent policing, we all have enough. Mayor Ginther, 100 faith leaders are calling on you to meet this moral moment. Invest in Black Communities and not policing. Meet with the people of God who have been crying out for change. You were elected for such a time as this.”

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Faith in Public Life is a national movement of clergy and faith leaders united in the prophetic pursuit of justice, equality and the common good. Together, we are leading the fight to advance just policies at the state and federal level. Our network of 50,000 leaders engage in bold moral action that affirms our values and the human dignity of all.

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