Columbus Civilian Police Review Board Member Asked to Resign After Anti-Police Comments

In an 8-1 vote on Monday night, the Columbus Civilian Police Review Board recommended removing one of its members due to the member posting anti-police rhetoric on social media.

The decision comes in response to board member Gambit Aragon making anti-police social media posts after canceling a controversial holiday storytime event at a Clintonville church featuring drag queens.

The event garnered attention after the Proud Boys announced that it would be attending the event to protest. They also encouraged other Ohioans to join them. The radical left political group ANTIFA responded, saying they would also be in attendance.

Organizers canceled the event “over how to best execute a security plan.”

Aragon posted on Twitter photos of Columbus Police officers at the event standing with protesters using the hashtag “F***12,” a phrase commonly used in police protests. In a post on Facebook, Aragon wrote that the Columbus Police Department, Columbus City Council, and Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther‘s office “don’t give a f*** about us.”

According to the board, it was unaware of the statements that Aragon had made on social media. The board says it was also unaware that he was personally involved as a member of the safety and security team for the drag show event.

Board chair Janet Jackson said after the protest, Aragon raised the question if the Columbus Office of the Inspector General should look at police conduct during the protest without disclosing his personal involvement.

During the board’s special meeting on Monday, Aragon said that while serving on the board he wanted to be a “living testament to the abuse my community (the LGBTQ community) has suffered at the hands of police.”

He also said that the civilian police review board would not make any difference.

“Instead of doing real work for the citizens of the city, we were buried in training after training. It wasn’t lost on me that most of the training was ‘copaganda’ presented to many of the boards that were still on the fence in hopes of sympathy,” Aragon said.

According to the city of Columbus website, voters approved the review board in 2020. The review board’s design is to oversee investigations into alleged police misconduct. The board may make recommendations about policy changes or discipline, but the public safety director has to make those decisions.

The review board’s bylaws and standards for professional conduct express the need for board members to be objective and open-minded in their actions. The standards note that the community and law enforcement entrust the board members to “conduct their work in a professional, fair and impartial manner.”

Several board members said that although each has biases relating to their different life experiences, the city expects them not to allow those experiences to influence them while serving on the board.

According to board member Richard Nathan, objectivity is crucial to maintain the board’s credibility with the community.

“The community expects that these cases are going to be handled in an unbiased way, and your public statements have raised an enormous question mark for me that whether you could be unbiased,” Nathan said.

Kyle Strickland, who voted against Aragon’s removal, said the board does not have a set social media policy for its members.

The board’s action is only a recommendation to the mayor’s office. Ginther requested that Aragon resigns.

Last week, Aragon responded to Ginther’s request on social media by posting “Short answer No,” he continued to say he felt offended that Ginther requested he resigns from the board.

“Members of the Civilian Police Review Board must remain objective and set aside any personal bias. The Board voted today to remove Gambit Aragon. Mayor Ginther will follow their recommendation and will work with City Council to replace him with another member of the community committed to police oversight without prejudice,” Ginther said.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Columbus Civilian Police Review Board Special Meeting” by City of Columbus.



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