You don’t have to look very hard for examples of police having ties with hate groups in America.
Which is why a recent (now-deleted) post on Equality Ohio’s Instagram had me so agitated.*
The post urges allies not to counter protest, and suggests that “local law enforcement” is committed to the community’s safety. But this lie is and a clear example of systemic violence. Police more often protect hate groups’ right to protest, than they protect targeted individuals. So which “community’s safety” is the post referencing?
After using my coping skills for a few days, I’ve decided to sit down and write a response to The Columbus and Central Ohio LGBTQ+ Leadership Roundtable, and to the people of Ohio.
I take it personally for several reasons:
Law enforcement, and police have ties with hate groups. And the Columbus Police are not committed to the LGBTQIA2S+ community safety. Our community needs stronger allies. We need individuals and groups are unafraid to guard against hate groups.
We Can’t Rely on Police To Keep Us Safe from Hate Groups.
In 2022, after the ridiculous, yet thorough, HB 454 and then HB 616 bills were introduced, my brain snapped. I became OBSESSED with following fascist bills. These bills target a number of licensed professions, including my own.
I reached out to Equality Ohio earlier and offered to start a petition if no one else was. Here is my petition for licensed professionals.
At this point, I’m angry at Equality Ohio and every other org who participated in the so-called “roundtable” described in their post. I volunteered my time with Equality Ohio because I personally trusted the org to understand the dangers we face.
Anyone who speaks for LGBTQIA2S+ people but encourages them to stand down and trust police is being naïve. And being naïve about legislation targeting vulnerable communities, or CPD’s activity toward those communities is dangerous. The police DO NOT make our communities safer.
The CPD Are Violent, Corrupt, and Cordial with Hate Groups
I’ve lived in Central Ohio for close to a decade. It’s no secret that the CPD has a world-renown reputation for violence. Most especially when it comes to children and Black people; the targets of the very legislation which Equality Ohio is supposed to be a community leader against.
There’s no way in the world I’d trust the CPD with my safety, or recommend others do so. Especially not at an event where I’m being targeted by hate groups when it’s a well known fact that many law enforcement officers are also members of hate groups.
There’s documented footage a member of the Columbus Police Department high fiving hate group members. Again, these police ties to hate groups are no secret. Columbus police are openly friendly with hate groups and this makes our communities unsafe.
As a professional, I’m transparent with clients about my legal and ethical limits to prevent police involvement to every extent possible. In Ohio, police are defaults for crisis calls. I have very clear and transparent communication with those I counsel about how to maintain safety in these circumstance.
That includes limiting police involvement as much as possible — not just assessing for suicidal ideation.
We Must Guard Our Communities Against Hate Groups
Unfortunately, Proud Boys in Central Ohio isn’t new. In 2019, a few dozen Proud Boys walked up and down Sawmill Road in Dublin, Ohio. Someone reached out to me to do a counter protest because I live in the area, and so I connected with seasoned activists who knew how to do this.
Within less than a week community showed up. We showed up because we weren’t afraid to make it known that hate wasn’t at all welcome in Dublin, Ohio. We also outnumbered the Proud Boys, who didn’t present themselves, to this event.
We didn’t get any press, which was disappointing, seeing as the singular event attended by Proud Boys and pro-Trump bigots the week prior did receive press coverage. It’s almost as though the media was more interested in promoting bigotry and fear, than highlighting community resistance to it.
When “wolverine watchmen” attempted to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, some of these inter-state militia men met in Dublin, Ohio to discuss the plot.
This BBC article from June, 2020 states:
“According to a sworn FBI affidavit, an undercover law enforcement source attended a June meeting in Dublin, Ohio, where a group of Michigan-based militia members discussed overthrowing state governments “that they believed were violating the US Constitution”. (Emphasis on Dublin, Ohio provided by me).
Who Do Proud Boys Target?
One of my issues with the messaging in EO’s Instagram post is that it sounds like it was written by members a hate group and/or the Columbus police. It doesn’t read at all like anyone who has my back, let alone the backs of any marginalized person in Ohio.
Hate groups like Proud Boys are anti-Black and anti-Semitic
Instances of both interpersonal and systemic violence are already rising without submissive messaging from supposed allied organizations. Might I suggest different messaging for the future below:
Fuck Proud Boys.
Allies Need To Stand Stronger.
Consider transformative justice and publicly and clearly make amends for this ridiculously reckless and intentional messaging of violence.
Use your (own) name, your (own) whiteness, your (own) privileges, your (own) money, the letters you’re still paying off the government for, to say FUCK OFF to Nazis.
I’m here for that.
If you aren’t, at least keep quiet, because I’m not here for you to write welcome letters to Proud Boys in my name.
Lily Cunningham, (they/them) M.Ed., LPCC-S
Cunningham Counseling and Consultation, LLC
*first posted on Medium, December, 2022. Edited