Today, Senate Democratic Leader Kenny Yuko (Richmond Heights) released the following statement after three African American elected officials — Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin, and Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce — were hit with mace by police during a Columbus protest against the death of George Floyd:
"I was deeply troubled today to learn that three of Central Ohio's most prominent elected officials, all of whom are African American, were maced by police during a peaceful demonstration outside Ohio's Statehouse.
"Thousands of Ohioans have joined nationwide protests after the death of George Floyd, and some protests have led to property damage to and around our Statehouse. Tensions are high, but that's exactly when everyone must show restraint and remain peaceful.
"I view the Statehouse and Capitol Square with a deep reverence. There's so much history in that building. It breaks my heart to see even one inch of it damaged. I know local business owners feel similarly about their establishments. But I also understand the anger. These protests speak to much larger issues in our state and our nation.
"Ever since I took office, I've maintained that Ohio legislates by zip code. We educate by zip code. We incarcerate by zip code. And that practice often leaves black Ohioans out.
"My Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) colleagues are calling for Ohio to declare racism a public health crisis. I stand with them. The time is now to move from discussion to action.
"I say to my Republican colleagues: We don't need another committee to discuss community-police relations. Let's legislate like we mean it instead. Help me improve my communities. Help me clean up my neighborhoods. Give people some hope by actually improving their quality of life.
"Give them a reason to believe in their government. That's how we create peace that lasts."