Councilmember: Columbus leaders “committed to action” on police-community relations

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Chaos could aptly describe Monday night's Columbus City Council meeting, when protesters disrupted the council meeting, shouting down city leaders and seizing the council stage.

Council member Shannon Hardin describes it another way.

"Folks who are hurting,” Hardin said. “Folks who, like a lot in the community, want answers."

Last week Hardin was one of two council members to sit down with the People's Justice Project, the organizers behind Monday night's protest.

He says the concerns they raised were not new to him.

"The fear that is out there is real. And for those that don't acknowledge that, you're putting your head in the sand. We're not doing that in Columbus. That is not our stance as a city government, and certainly as a young black male myself, that's not where we are."

Hardin says there are no simple answers, or quick fixes.

Though council members left the chambers Monday night when protesters refused to come to order, he says city leaders are willing to talk – and to listen.

"We're committed to those conversations and committed to action. No one that I've talked to in this building is defending a status quo. It's how and what are those changes we need, and how do we have as many voices around the table to help us get there."

He says peaceful protest is fine. But sitting down and finding solutions is where change begins.

"I'm not asking for blind trust in the system. I'm asking for us now to roll up our sleeves. Now it's time to get to work. Now we've established that we need to have this conversation. We're there. But now the hard work starts."

A Columbus Police spokesperson declined comment, referring us to City Council.

We also reached out to the Mayor's Office.

Mayor Ginther's spokesperson says he is reviewing the protesters’ demands and is open to any thoughtful, reasonable suggestions.

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