Report by Don Bryant, co-chair of CPA’s Middle East Peace Committee:
I joined CAIR Cleveland coordinators with 30 Al Ihsan Islamic School students and two teachers for the 2nd Annual Muslim Day at the State Capitol on Tuesday, 9/25/18. We met up with students, educators and CAIR coordinators from Columbus and Cincinnati.
Our general session included a panel Q & A with state reps Stephanie Howse (11-D), Emilia Strong Sykes (34-D) and Columbus City Council member Elizabeth Brown (daughter of US Senator Sherrod Brown). Representative Howse is the Ohio Black Legislative Caucus President. Rep. Sykes is the House Minority Whip. Both of these women understood the racial or status profiling faced by Muslims as black female state legislators who had been scrutinized or stalked by state security officers. When Rep. Howse suggested that Ohio lawmakers partake in “implicit bias” training she was told that it is not a big issue. (We’ll see about that, right folks?) Remarks by state rep David Leland (22-D) concluded the session.
We formed teams for discussion about current relevant legislation and to plan our legislative visits with state reps or staff. Each team visited three offices of Democrat and Republican legislators to present our views on relative bills.
- Pending legislation includes:
- Two racial justice bills, SB 84 and HB 616, to prevent biased policing and prohibit arrest and citation quotas;
- An economic justice bill, HB 576/SB 277, proposing a raise in the state minimum wage;
- Firearms bills: supporting HB 585/SB 288 to create Extreme Risk Protection Order to temporarily restrict high risk individuals from gun possession;
- And opposing HB 228/SB 180 which strengthen “stand your ground” protections which often result in targeting people of color or other minorities.
I found myself feeling inspired by the high school students.
When we returned to Cleveland one teacher, Ms. Faten, told the group, “look at Mr. Don’s shirt,” (which reads: “Got human rights? Palestinians don’t!”)
One boy shouted, “I want one!”