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Group Hopes To Ask Voters To End Qualified Immunity In Ohio

Activists gather at the Ohio Statehouse to announce they've filed petitions for a ballot issue to qualified immunity for law enforcement and other public workers. The records on the ground bear the names of people killed in shootings by police officers.
Karen Kasler
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Activists gather at the Ohio Statehouse to announce they've filed petitions for a ballot issue to qualified immunity for law enforcement and other public workers. The records on the ground bear the names of people killed in shootings by police officers.

A group has taken the first step to asking voters next year to eliminate qualified immunity for police officers and other government employees accused in shootings or other actions.

The group calling itself Accountability Ohio Now filed paperwork Monday, and then gathered to promote the issue in front of the Statehouse.

Among those who came out to support it included family members of people who died in police shootings, community activists with Black Lives Matter flags, the far-right and armed Boogaloo Boys and libertarians.

Spike Cohen was the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate last year and lives in South Carolina. He said he flew in to join the cause of ending the civil defense for police officers and other public sector workers they were "just doing their jobs".

“By being able to do that, they aren’t held accountable. And what this would do is, it would disallow them from doing that. They would have to defend themselves on the merits of the case," Cohen said.

Law enforcement groups are largely opposed to eliminating qualified immunity, saying police actions in volatile situations are complex but that officers who act within the law should be protected.

The group filed its petition language with the Ohio Attorney General’s office. If it’s certified, the group would have to gather more than 440,000 signatures from 44 counties to get it on the next year’s ballot.

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