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Columbus Council Members Want Curfew Charges Dropped Against Protesters

A woman sits in the street with her fist raised while police gather on High Street.
Paige Pfleger
A woman sits in the street with her fist raised while police gather on High Street.

Columbus City Council members are calling for charges to be dropped against protesters arrested for violating curfew and "failure to disperse."

After Mayor Andrew lifted the city's 10 p.m. curfew on Saturday, following a federal lawsuit, both council president Shannon Hardin and president pro tem Elizabeth Brown released statements demanding that related charges be cleared against demonstrators.

"Folks don’t need to be penalized for peacefully assembling and making their voices heard," Hardin wrote. "We should not police free speech, and people certainly do not need to face penalty by their government for exercising theirs," said Brown.

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein responded that his office is only pursuing "those charges with sufficient evidence" and is reviewing allegations of violence on a case-by-case basis.

"As of late last week, the City Attorney's Office has already dismissed several curfew cases after completed review," Klein tweeted.

Ginther originally implemented the curfew on May 30 after some downtown businesses were damaged and looted during protests over the Minneapolis Police killing of George Floyd. After criticism over officers' use of force and tear gas, Columbus Police essentially stopped enforcing the curfew early last week, and protests since have ended peacefully.

"I am pleased that in recent days there has been better communication and greater collaboration between police and protestors, demonstrations have been peaceful, and there have not been any significant acts of violence, vandalism or use of force by police," Ginther said in a statement Saturday.

In recent days, Klein, Hardin and Brown have joined calls for police reforms, including the creation of a Citizen Review Commission and the end of chemical agents against nonviolent demonstrators.