Columbus Police Needlessly Tow Medic's Car for Being 16 Inches From the Curb

Robin Zlotnick - Author

Jun. 29 2020, Updated 4:15 p.m. ET

A viral picture depicts two cops from the Columbus Police Department taking a tape measure to the curb to measure the distance between the curb and the car of a medic. "Columbus Police towed a street medic's car today at a protest at city hall for being 16 inches from the curb. This too is police violence," Twitter user @smoketinged writes.

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Since the photo was posted on June 27, it has amassed more than 4,700 retweets and over 11,000 likes. It was immediately clear to many this was an effort by the police department to stifle the efforts of medics and others helping to treat protesters and others in the streets who might need assistance.

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Soon after this photo went viral, the driver of that medic vehicle responded with his story about what happened. His friend took screenshots of his response and shared them on Twitter.

In his response, he says that, for several weeks, he's been volunteering with a group of medics who have been providing medical aid to protesters and others in the streets. He writes, "The medics that I work with are neutral and do not engage directly with the protesters in order to protect ourselves and ensure that we can continue to provide care."

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In other words, they are specifically not there to make a statement about the protest causes to make sure that they can continue to give care without being mistreated by the police. He writes that some officers even thanked him for being out there and keeping people safe. 

But, he writes, "Some officers apparently have not gotten this memo and they continue to target, with what seems to be authorization from higher levels of Columbus Police, medics and support personnel."

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He goes on to explain this specific incident. He was parked in a handicap spot with a handicap placard, and he was helping to treat the infected foot of a man who was "close to homelessness." While he was washing and cleaning the man's foot, the police decided to target his vehicle. 

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They brought out measuring tape, called a sergeant and a lieutenant, and went up and up the ranks until they got permission to tow his car. He was standing next to the car the whole time. He asked repeatedly if he could just move the car a few inches closer to the curb, and they said no.

He writes, "They would not let me get my medication out of the car, my laptop, or work laptop out of the car or any necessities including my wallet out of the car. They specifically towed my car after 7 which is [when] the impound lot closes and it is closed tomorrow. I spoke to a highway patrol officer who said he did not understand why they would have towed it, especially if the driver is there."

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For many, this is just another way in which the police abuse their power. They bully people who are just trying to help for extremely minor infractions that normally wouldn't warrant a reaction as extreme as a car being towed.

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The driver of this car was a medic. He was there to give medical aid to people, not to make a political statement. And he was punished for it by cops who towed his car — just because they could. 

"Columbus Division of Police, I want answers," he writes. "Why can't you set aside your differences with the protesters and with the people out and look at the food in the world and help those who are doing good? Why can't you be the good guys for once?"

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