Democratic lawmaker sues Ohio Democratic Party and its leader

Ohio representative John Barnes (from legislative website)
Ohio representative John Barnes (from legislative website)
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State Representative John Barnes, an African-American from Northeast Ohio, says the Ohio Democratic Party has retaliated against him because he wouldn’t join the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus. And he says he’s been the target of racist attitudes and actions.

Barnes says it’s been going on for years but says there’s a good reason why he’s waited until now to file the lawsuit against the party and its current director, Chris Redfern.

“African American members have to go through another door while white members go through another door. And they expect you to stay in a box, a box of despair, a box where your voice is minimized in the process.”

Barnes, who says he’s been denied leadership opportunities and important committee assignments, is asking for at least $50,000 in compensatory and punitive damages plus costs.

For his part, Ohio Democratic Party Chair Chris Redfern is on vacation but issued a short written statement. He said “The Party is not commenting on ongoing litigation, however frivolous it may be.”

Story by OPR's Jo Ingles.

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