Students rally outside Ohio Union, demand Ohio State acknowledge Donovan Lewis’ death and end ties with CPD

One of the protest leaders, Devin Smith, in his fourth year of Custom Studies, addresses the crowd outside Bricker Hall during a protest September 2 after the death of Donovan Lewis. Credit: Zachary Rilley | photo editor

About 50 students gathered outside the Ohio Union on Friday to denounce the death of 20-year-old Donovan Lewis and urge the university to sever ties with the Columbus Police Division.

The protest, which was partially led by Devin Smith, a fourth-year custom study student, comes three days after Columbus police shot dead Lewis, who was unarmed, in the Hilltop neighborhood. Smith, who grew up playing football with Lewis, said protesters demanded recognition by the state of Ohio of Lewis’s death and an end to his ties to Columbus police.

“Above all, we demand that we remember the name Donovan Lewis,” Smith said. “And not only that, we demand that we continue to say the name of Donovan Lewis. We demand that he be remembered not as some sort of martyr or some other statistic, but for what he was: a good boy, a good boy who deserves to be alive today.

According to Columbus Expedition, several Columbus police officers showed up at Lewis’s apartment Tuesday morning to arrest him on a warrant.

Police found Lewis in his bedroom, and Officer Ricky Anderson opened the door and seconds later shot Lewis, according to body camera footage released by Columbus police. Lewis died at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center shortly thereafter.

Smith said Lewis had a bright personality and made people smile.

“He was so passionate, just a happy soul,” Smith said. “Obviously he was going through some things, but guess what, who isn’t?”

Protesters also called on the State of Ohio to “play a greater role in the community of Columbus in preventing these tragedies” and Anderson’s firing.

Yondris Ferguson, a fourth-year political science and African-American and African studies student, said he thought the Columbus police’s involvement with the university was unnecessary.

“OSU already has its own very good sized police department. I can’t understand why they feel like their police department isn’t enough,” said Ferguson, chairman of the General Assembly of the Government of the United States. undergraduate students.

University spokesman Chris Booker said in an email that Ohio State’s primary law enforcement agency is the State University Police Division. from Ohio. Columbus Police officers work primarily with the university for traffic enforcement at sporting events and share a mutual aid agreement that allows university police to assist Columbus police officers “off-campus under certain circumstances, such as joint patrols,” he said.

“The State of Ohio supports the right of our students, faculty, and staff to peacefully express their opinions and speak out on issues that are important to them,” Booker said.

Students entered the Ohio Union, sharing their message with those inside. They then walked across campus to Bricker Hall, which houses the office of university president Kristina M. Johnson, and attempted to enter.

Ferguson said protesting police brutality is essential, but he hasn’t seen much change after participating in similar protests.

“This is not my first protest,” Ferguson said. “I get tired just because I say pretty much the same thing, bring it back to the same situation and a few months to a year later, it comes right back to that.”

Protest leader Isaac Wilson, a second-year aerospace engineering student, said that while he had no personal relationship with Lewis, he had seen him in passing and felt called to organize the demonstration.

“I almost feel a sense of helplessness,” Wilson said. “What can we do but come here and protest and be unity in our community?”

Wilson said the proximity to the Hilltop neighborhood, just west of campus, made the location close to home.

“The crazy thing is that Hilltop, where it happened or near where it happened, is 15 minutes, 12 minutes from here,” Wilson said. “All it takes is a car ride and a knock on the door and it could be me.”

Aubrey Wright contributed reporting.

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