Columbus City Council approved changes on Monday limiting police in Ohio’s capital in how they use force against protesters, according to the Associated Press. The ordinance also limits police from using tear gas, wooden or rubber bullets, batons, flash-bang grenades, and other items on nonviolent protesters on streets and sidewalks. These restrictions would be part of city law under the measures approved this week by Columbus council members.
These changes come two years after Columbus police received criticism for responding to demonstrations against police brutality by using physical violence, tear gas, and pepper spray against protestors without provocation. In December 2021, Ohio’s capital city agreed to pay a $5.75 million settlement to protestors injured during marches against racial injustice.
“During the protests in Columbus, some plaintiffs were significantly injured. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon the city to accept responsibility and pay restitution. Many Columbus Division of Police officers did perform their jobs professionally during that time, but this litigation highlighted serious issues that must be addressed,” Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein said when he announced the settlement. “While this has certainly been a difficult and painful moment for our community, it has yielded important, and in some instances long overdue, reforms to policing practices, policies, and oversight.”
A second ordinance passed Monday requiring police to have badge numbers and identifying information visible on alternative uniforms. The council approved $150,000 to make those changes.
Protests in 2020 also led to proposed legislation in the General Assembly that would allow law enforcement officers to sue for injuries or false claims suffered during riots. House Bill 109, which is being looked at by the Senate committee, would increase penalties for rioting and create new laws for riot assault and riot vandalism. It would also punish those who help those who carry out a riot.