Joint letter to Chief Thomas Quinlan of the Columbus Division of Police
June 23, 2020
Chief Thomas Quinlan
Columbus Division of Police
120 Marconi Blvd.
Columbus, OH 43215
On behalf of the Columbus College of Art & Design community, Wallace Tanksley, CCAD’s Director of Safety & Security and a Franklin County Special Deputy Sheriff, and I want to express deep concerns about the actions taken by Columbus police officers when dealing with protests that occurred in the city over the last weekend in May, particularly the George Floyd protest that occurred on the streets surrounding CCAD’s campus the evening of May 30.
Neither of us have ever seen anything like what happened over that weekend in Columbus and elsewhere around the country, especially the aggressive actions in dealing with protesters taken by many police departments, including the Columbus Division of Police.
From reports of CCAD students who were participating in the protests, Columbus police officers at the scene did not attempt to deescalate the situation, but instead, and without warning, shot pepper balls and pellets at protesters. The use of punitive crowd control measures to curtail peaceful protest should not be tolerated.
By coming together to peaceably protest the issues of systemic racism, police violence, and bigotry, demonstrators were exercising their First Amendment right to free speech, and we believe the police should do all they can to support freedom of expression. When specific illegal acts occur, officers can deal with those individually; however, they should not break up a protest or treat all protesters as lawbreakers.
Chief Quinlan, CCAD joins many other businesses, community organizations, and civic leaders in saying that now is a critical time to listen to and understand the experiences of marginalized members of our community and support their right to peacefully voice their grievances. It’s imperative you immediately review policies and protocols within the Columbus Division of Police and implement the necessary changes to prioritize the de-escalation of volatile situations in our community.
Melanie Corn, President
Wallace M. Tanksley, Director of Safety & Security
Cc: Mayor Andrew Ginther