Change starts in relationships, families, neighborhoods
As Published in the Morning Journal January 17, 2022
Voting rights and a spike in deadly domestic violence against women in Lorain County since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic, were two of the topics discussed Jan. 17 during a virtual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.
The Interfaith Ministries of Lorain County and Lorain Interfaith Association sponsored the program.
More than 30 participated in the Zoom platform program dubbed “The Cry of Universal Justice.”
“There has never been a more important time to educate, advocate and organize for justice in all its forms than now,” said Imam Paul Hasan, one of the celebration’s organizers. “Like Martin Luther King Jr., we must work today, to not only expand civil rights, but also voting rights, economic justice and social justice for all people of all races, religions, ethnicities, genders, ages and economic conditions.
“We need to tell our Senators to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, but we must also come together on the ground here to end the many injustices and forms of violence in our neighborhoods, streets and families in Lorain and across the county.”
Greg Coleridge, a voting rights activist, spoke extensively on voting rights as did Lorain Mayor Jack Bradley.
The right to vote has become hot button topic in the country in light of the highly contested 2020 presidential election.
Since that 2020 election, many states have enacted legislation that some say is cutting back on the voting rights of minorities.
Coleridge laid out what is in the current federal voting rights bill that is making its way through Congress and why the right to vote is so important and must be protected.
He said he gets that many people question just how important casting a vote is in this day and age when there is a perception that so many elected officials are in the pockets of big donors.
“I get the skepticism in the African American community and the lower income community and many even in the progressive community of the importance … of voting,” Coleridge said. “I share that skepticism to a certain extent.”
But, he noted it’s important to remember that voting “is a step, an important step,” to maintaining a democracy.
Coleridge said remaining active in the community also is an important.
He also warned that not using or losing the right to vote can allow others to be elected with agendas that could harm the marginalized in society.
“They can do a lot more harm to us than we have even seen,” Coleridge said. “We talk about justice.
“If we elect the wrong people, if we don’t step up, then certainly people, that do get elected can do a heck of a lot of injustice in all its forms toward us.”
Virginia Beckman, executive director of the Lorain County Safe Harbor/Genesis House Shelter, also gave a presentation.
Beckman noted that since the start of the pandemic in 2020, 11 women in Lorain County have been killed in what she termed “domestic homicides.”
There were zero deaths tied to domestic violence in Lorain County in the years 2018 and 2019, she said.
Beckman tied her speech to King’s belief that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“To lose 11 lives in less than two years to domestic homicide, is shocking,” she said.
In her presentation, Beckman zeroed in the recent murder of 24-year Milenna Lopez.
She noted Lopez had multiple restraining orders in place through courts against her alleged killer, James Kimbrough III, but they could not save her.
Beckman said tougher laws must be enacted to prevent men accused of domestic violence from being able to repeatedly be granted bail when they violate protection orders.
“Many of these cases are not behind doors,” she said. “In many cases, the victims have reached out over, and over and over again to our justice system pleading for help from our justice system.”
Beckman said many women caught up in the cycle of domestic violence are resigned to the fact that their partner eventually will murder them.
“They come to the realization, they come to a level of acceptance in their own fate,” she said.
“This is unconscionable in our community and it absolutely is a clear, clear illustration of injustice.”
Michael Fitzpatrick is an award-winning journalist who graduated from The Ohio State University. His travels have taken him to small daily papers in Ohio where he worked at The Daily Jeffersonian in Cambridge and also The Sandusky Register. He also worked for two years at the Red Wing Republican-Eagle in Minnesota.