#AdvocacyMatters: An Investment in Change

February 10, 2023 / #AdvocacyMatters

In encounters with police, the intersection of race and disability all too often ends in tragedy. Despite representing only 20 percent of the population, those with disabilities make up 30 to 50 percent of individuals subject to police use of force. This danger – and the comprehensive solutions necessary to address it – has long been a focus of our advocacy.

In 2021, we released Policing and Racial Injustice: A Disability Rights Perspective, a policy report examining the ways police use of force has disproportionately affected people with disabilities. Informed by the findings of this report, we moved towards action. We partnered with a number of local organizers, activists, and groups in forming the Columbus Safety Collective - a coalition focused on the creation of a permanent anti-racist, trauma-informed, non-policing response system in the city of Columbus for people experiencing mental health crises. By centering on the perspectives and experiences of people with lived experience, especially people of color, the need for this anti-racist, trauma-informed system became clear.

Earlier this week, Columbus City Council unveiled a $1.2 million amendment to the annual budget to pilot a non-police response to non-violent calls regarding issues such as mental health, concerns regarding un-housed neighbors and more.

“This is a critical step for the city of Columbus,” remarked Steve David of the Columbus Safety Collective. “The people of Columbus have been asking for a non-police response program and we are grateful that [city council] President Hardin has committed resources to begin making this a reality.”

While this monumental achievement is worthy of celebration, the work is just beginning. The Columbus Safety Collective will be hosting an open meeting next week on Wednesday, February 15th from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at Venture Suites 780 on Mt. Vernon Ave to move this plan forward. Our mission, vision and our strategic direction remains centered on equity, freedom from discrimination, and the empowerment of those unheard. #AdvocacyMatters

This project was partly financially assisted by the a racial justice initiative grant from the Ohio State Bar Foundation. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the Ohio State Bar Foundation.

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