In the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis Police Officer on May 25, hundreds of protests have erupted both nationally and internationally, taking a stand against systemic racism and police brutality. All 50 U.S. states have held demonstrations against the use of violence toward black Americans by law enforcement, despite the looming presence of the coronavirus pandemic.
Although we can’t yet tell how the current protests will affect the spread of COVID-19, many individuals are left at a crossroads when considering participating in public protests. Social distancing is difficult to maintain while protesting, especially if you are arrested. Taking a stand against police brutality seems more important now than ever for many people, but getting infected could endanger their lives, as well as the lives of those close to them.
Luckily, there are various ways Cincinnati residents can support the Black Lives Matter movement while remaining safe at home. Here are some local resources that you can use to make your voice heard through donating, signing petitions, and educating yourself:
Cincinnati Bail Fund
Established on May 30 by the Beloved Community Church in Avondale, the Cincinnati Bail Fund provides bail funding for protestors who are arrested while peacefully demonstrating, like the 307 protestors who were arrested on May 31 and detained overnight at the Hamilton County Justice Center. Donations can be made here, and you can contact Karen Bell for information at (513) 463-7812.
Cincinnati Relief Fund
Cecilia Padilla, Audrey Patterson, and Harris Wheeler were inspired by their own personal protest experiences to launch the Cincinnati Relief fund. “The jail is full of people forced to endure these inhumane conditions and the police are currently still making mass arrests,” they write on the GoFundMe page. “My partner and friends were only four of hundreds of people that were denied access to basic human rights.” The fund provides financial assistance to help those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 while detained for protesting, with coronavirus testing, medical bills, or other expenses that are result of being exposed to the virus. Donations can be made here.
The Cincinnati NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) was founded in 1915 and remains an active chapter of one of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organizations. Its website currently includes petitions for justice related to the murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, as well as contact information for representatives in their respective areas. Additionally, its Facebook page actively posts updates about protests and resources for allies to educate themselves on the movement and hear stories from a Black perspective. Information can be found here.
The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) is another organization with a long history of civil rights advocacy. A statement about police brutality on its website says donations to the group will fuel the organization’s “legal battles and urgent advocacy efforts.” Although its Ohio chapter is based in Cleveland, the group aims to pass civil rights lawsuits that affect the entire nation. Information and links to donate can be found here.
The Ohio Innocence Project
Although racially fueled police brutality has taken center stage in current events, advocating for criminal justice goes further than law enforcement–related issues. Since 2003, the Ohio Innocence Project has provided legal defense to help exonerate those who have been imprisoned for crimes that they didn’t commit. The group’s work has successfully led to the release of 30 wrongfully convicted Ohioans, who collectively served more than 600 years behind bars. Information and links to donate can be found here.