YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Remembering the lives of two men killed by police in Columbus this month, the Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past held a candlelight vigil Sunday night to honor Andre Hill and Casey Goodson.
They call for changes to be made right here in the Valley.
“We have seen this for centuries and centuries,” said Lekeila Houser, a member of the Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Pasty.
The group braved the cold, standing on ice and snow covered steps of the Mahoning County Courthouse.
Members of the Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past questioned the lack of body cameras for the Youngstown Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies.
“Why can’t Youngstown police apply for a grant–police chief apply for a grant and get body cameras? Because we want to see what’s happening,” Houser said.
The group says body cameras are vital to keep the powerful in check.
“I believe there should be no excuse for risking the safety of other people, and it’s a part of accountability,” said Meri Johnston, another member.
The group also talked about Ohio’s pending Stand Your Ground bill, Senate Bill 175. The bill has passed in both the House and Senate and is awaiting a second review in the Senate before it goes to the governor.
They say if passed, this law is detrimental to Black communities.
“The Stand Your Ground Bill has been used against Black people again and again because White America views Black people as threats,” said Brittany Bailey, a member of the group. “It’s become an excuse for people to use unnecessary violence to murder people without any consequences.”
Education, the group says, is the best way to fight racism, as well as being anti-racist.
“An anti-racist is a person who is taking the steps needed to work against racism,” Houser said. “So, a person who is educating themselves on racism in this country and on systemic racism, educating themselves on institutionalized racism.”