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Ohio Heartbeat Movement Holds Vigil in George Floyd's Memory

Members of the Ohio Heartbeat Movement release red balloons into the air outside the Ohio Statehouse on May 25. The balloons represent victims of police brutality.
Mawa Iqbal
/
WYSO
Members of the Ohio Heartbeat Movement release red balloons into the air outside the Ohio Statehouse on May 25. The balloons represent victims of police brutality.

Organizers placed broken vinyl records on the ground outside the Ohio Statehouse. Written on each record was the name of a Black man killed by Ohio police officers.

Some of their family members stood behind the records and spoke about their loved ones Tuesday night. Once they were done, the family members released red balloons into the air.

This vigil was hosted by a community group called The Ohio Heartbeat Movement in memory of George Floyd and other victims of police violence. It comes one year after George Floyd’s death. Members of the Movement say there hasn’t been enough police reform this past year, citing the Biden administration’s missed deadline for passing the George Floyd Act.

In Ohio, the group is trying to get rid of qualified immunity. This is a legal practice that shields officers from being sued for using excessive force, and thus, cleared of any wrongdoing.

The mothers of Julius Tate Jr., Henry Green, Deaunte Bell and aunt of Kareem Ali Nadir Jones said they were all too familiar with this. The officers who shot their loved ones have been granted qualified immunity.

Barbara Lee American speaks outside the Ohio Statehouse at a vigil on May 25. Her sister, Cynthia Brown, stands next to her, holding a cardboard cutout of their  late nephew, Kareem Ali Nadir Jones.  Jones was shot by Columbus Police Officers in 2017, but the officers were cleared of wrongdoing.
Mawa Iqbal
Barbara Lee American speaks out against qualified immunity at a vigil outside the Ohio Statehouse on May 25. The officers who shot and killed her nephew in 2017 were granted qualified immunity, clearing them of any wrongdoing.

Barbara Lee American is Jones’ aunt. Jones was shot and killed by Columbus Police in 2017. At the vigil, American urged everyone to help end qualified immunity.

“He was a member of the human family,” American said. “It is a violation of our human rights with your help, we can do this nationally. Because the massacre has been ongoing.”

The Heartbeat Movement is trying to get a petition that would prohibit qualified immunity on the November 2022 ballot. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office rejected the group’s first petition. But the Heartbeat Movement will re-submit their signatures on June 1.