Police honor longtime activist who fight against illegal drugs in Columbus neighborhoods
A longtime community activist who helped fight illegal drugs in Columbus neighborhoods is being memorialized in the Public Safety Center.
The Columbus Police Department renamed and dedicated the center’s community room on Thursday in memory of retired Master Sgt. Milton Lockett Jr. His name now spans the doorway to what was formerly known as the community room.
Police Chief Ricky Boren, assisted by Lockett’s son Milton Lockett III and Lockett’s widow Angela, also unveiled a plaque that reads, “In recognition of his commitment to the fight against drugs in our community” and includes the signature chant of “Up with hope, down with dope” used by Lockett and anti-drug marchers.
Boren told the audience Lockett continued his fight against drugs until he was 83. He died June 27, 2018, and was buried at Ft. Benning’s Main Post Cemetery with full military honors. Many at Thursday’s dedication were, and still are, involved in the same fight.
“You, he, we all stood side-by-side out in some of the higher crime areas in this city,” Boren said at the ceremony, “and they knew that we were united, and they knew that they had to leave town or at least get out of that neighborhood, one of the two, because we were there to stay.”
Before fighting for his community, Lockett fought for his country. He served in the Army in Korea and did two tours in Vietnam. In 1959, he became the first African-American instructor in the Army’s Ranger School. City councilor Jerry “Pops” Barnes noted Lockett’s U.S. Army Service.
“Ranger Lockett, a true American hero, many times placed his life in harm’s way in defense of our country,” said city councilor Jerry “Pops” Barnes. He also said Lockett, even when sick and nearing the end of his life, thought of others first.
“When the chief and I went to the rehab center you would think he was coming to visit us,” Barnes said, “He picked our spirits up when we went there.”
“This is just phenomenal,” said Milton Lockett, “It’s a great honor to have my father’s name over this door and the room dedicated to him. There’s nothing, nothing that could have made him prouder.”
“He lost a bout with cancer,” said Lockett, “that’s probably the only fight he ever lost, I tell you. He loved a good fight and he gave a good fight. He was a great man.”