George Floyd magazine cover in courtroom prompts FOP complaint against local judge

A framed magazine cover featuring George Floyd placed near a witness stand in a Montgomery County courtroom is at the center of a complaint by the Fraternal Order of Police, according to a judge.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Steven Dankof told the Dayton Daily News in a statement that the FOP complaint says that he displayed “certain material” in the courtroom that is detrimental to the justice system. He said that the complaint was sent to the Ohio Supreme Court Disciplinary Counsel.

He called the complaint “utterly baseless.”

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“As to the magazine cover depicting Mr. Floyd, his murder has been properly condemned by the Montgomery County Association of Police Chiefs and elsewhere, and the rank-and-file have already been advised that ‘business as usual’ will not be tolerated as it relates to the treatment of citizens of color whom those officers are sworn to protect and defend. I echo that sentiment in the strongest possible terms.”

FOP president Jerome Dix didn’t respond to a message seeking comment Tuesday.

Dankof also said in a statement he should have been made aware of the complaint before it was sent to the Ohio Supreme Court.

“Importantly, neither the FOP, Judge (Barbara) Gorman, nor any other judge of this court who was aware of the FOP’s complaint, had the courage or common decency to inform me of the same,” he said in the statement. “Nobody, including Judge Gorman, informed me of her intent to send the same to disciplinary counsel. This outrageous failure to afford a sitting judge the opportunity to respond to the FOP’s complaint is particularly ironic given that every Ohio judge, before taking office, swears an oath, a solemn promise, to uphold the Ohio and United States Constitutions which require actual, authentic, real due process of law, essential fairness if you will, in all matters. I was denied that right by people who apparently prefer to operate in the shadows instead of the light of day.”

Gorman declined comment when reached by the Daily News.

Dankof has multiple framed pictures in his courtroom, including those of President Ulysses Grant, William Sherman, Frederick Douglass and others. He said these images taken together, are meant to show that all people are equal and will be treated as such in his court.

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“The photographs and artwork that adorn the walls to my courtroom, including Kadir Nelson’s New Yorker cover of Mr. Floyd, in absolutely no way displays or implies a bias on my part against law enforcement,” Dankof said in the statement. “My extensive work and numerous writings as a judge on this court put the lie to this baseless claim.”

A framed magazine cover featuring George Floyd is hung near the witnesses inside Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Steven Dankof’s courtroom. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

“This court’s work profoundly impacts the life and liberty of our citizens and I will not fail in my duty to afford actual, authentic and real due process of law -- essential fairness -- to all our citizens, especially those most vulnerable," he said.

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