It has been nearly two months since Franklin County Sheriff’s Office deputy Jason Meade shot and killed Casey Goodson Jr., a Black 23-year-old man, in north Columbus.
Protesters and organizers gathered in the freezing and cold weather at Goodale Park on January 30, what would have been Goodson’s 24th birthday.
The day’s event was mostly centered around honoring and celebrating Goodson’s life, whose family did make an appearance. Community members showered the Goodson family with gifts, and those present were encouraged to come up and sign a card for Goodson.
After celebrating and honoring Goodson’s life, the organizers — from People’s Justice Project, the Central Ohio Freedom Fund, Black Abolitionist Collective OH and Showing Up for Racial Justice — hosted a rally in Columbus and marched for two hours, demanding action.
They listed their demands: the Columbus Police Department terminate, arrest, and charge Jason Meade, the officer who shot Goodson, with murder; the revocation of Meade’s pension; clarity regarding this particular police-involved shooting through releasing all audio and video recordings from that night to Tamala Payne, the mother of Goodson; and for the city of Columbus to cover Goodson’s funeral costs.
The organizers further demanded CPD fire deputy chief, Thomas Quinlan, who was recently demoted from police chief to deputy chief. They also demanded Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin’s resignation and for both county commissioners to divest from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and city council to divest from the Columbus police.
Payne spoke at the rally and said that some vital information regarding the incident would be released to the public later this week.
“The shooting was nowhere near justified,” she said about the U.S. Marshalls spokesperson who claimed within hours of the incident that the shooting was justified. “My son was shot multiple times in his back going into his home. There is no justification.”
The event featured the families of police brutality victims in Columbus, the attorney who represented all of those victims, Sean Walton, local artists and legislators.
“First, I would like to say Happy Heavenly Birthday to Casey Goodson Jr.,” Ohio Rep. Erica Crawley said. Crawley next read a resolution that she and Ohio Sen. Hearcel F. Craig introduced, designating Jan. 30th as Casey Goodson Jr. Day.
“State senator Hearcel Craig [and I] are humbled to recognize the day of Jan. 30 as Casey Goodson Jr. Day,” she said. “We mourn and reflect on the loss of Casey Goodson Jr., a Black man, to police violence. We are reminded that it need not be like this.”
It is the community’s duty as a society and people to learn and prevent such instances from happening, Crawley said, adding that we must speak out.
“Enough is truly enough,” she said.
Hanif Abdurraqib, a notable poet and native of Columbus, also started by wishing Goodson a happy birthday. Abdurraqib added that this is an exciting point in time in this country’s history.
“People in power will [mislead the people with the] politics of representation, or the politics of symbolism, or the politics of small incremental changes that do nothing to serve the material needs of the working class,” he said while standing in front of a diverse and growing audience.
“I can’t get too excited about City Hall removing a statue of a genocidal murderer when there are still murderers running free, emptying the cities of its young folks,” he added.
In contrast, the city of Columbus pays them to do so, he said, and these “murderers” are not being held accountable for their actions.
Community members later marched in Victorian Village and the Short North after a celebration and rally at Goodale Park, chanting, “Black Lives Matter,” “Happy Birthday for Casey Goodson Jr.,” and “Make some noise for Casey Goodson Jr.”
Cruisers from the Columbus Division of Police stayed ahead of the march, mainly blocking traffic. There was a brief incident with two officers on foot approaching the vehicle leading the march. They ultimately walked away without words nor a confrontation.
Currently, Meade is off duty and awaits an interview by the CPD regarding the matter.