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ACLU Ohio, Protester Settle 2017 Lawsuit Against City of Columbus

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman ACLU Ohio, Protester Settle 2017 Lawsuit Against City of ColumbusProtesters gather at John Glenn International Airport on Jan. 30, 2017, to protest the travel ban put into place by then-President Donald Trump. Photo by Christine Ruddy.
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A lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Ohio has been settled with the City of Columbus, in which the city will pay a $10,000 settlement to Ellen Hana Abdur-Rahim, who was pepper-sprayed by a Columbus police officer at point-blank range in 2017.

The incident occurred during a protest in Downtown Columbus against the Trump Administration’s Travel Ban on Jan. 30, 2017.

Then-officer Justin Masters pepper-sprayed Abdur-Rahim from “inches away” while she was already sprayed and leaving the peaceful demonstration, violating her constitutional rights, the ACLU of Ohio argued. A lawsuit was filed in July of 2017, previously with two other co-plaintiffs.

“There is no way to put a price on this kind of trauma. But we welcome the measure of accountability that this settlement represents and we are grateful to partner with our client in demanding that accountability,” said Elizabeth Bonham, staff attorney for the ACLU of Ohio. “This behavior from the Columbus Police is wrong and it has always been wrong.”

Last month, the ACLU of Ohio joined the Columbus NAACP, Columbus Urban League and others to formally request the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Columbus Police Department’s history of violence and misconduct targeting Black residents, listing militaristic anti-protest tactics and lethal and excessive use of force as specific concerns. The request comes after a year of high-profile police violence protests and deaths at the hands of officers.

The department has not formally announced whether it would investigate patterns of misconduct and racial bias by the division.

For more information, visit www.acluohio.org.

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