On the day a new generation of activists “occupy” Columbus by camping out at the Ohio Statehouse, the Free Press mourns the loss of an older activist who was a one-man occupation, Jerry Doyle. Some of us met him as he set up daily “occupation” on Nelson Road in front of a nursing home holding two signs simply stating “There’s Danger Here” and “God Knows.” By sheer force of will, he shut down the nursing home where he used to work, where he had witnessed an elderly person being beaten and abused.

At the Free Press, we were used to his calls and messages which always began the same: “Nobody important, just the Doyle boy.” His “Plantation News” newsletter was a legendary muck-raking publication that exposed such an accurate truth about corruption in Columbus it often got him arrested.

Free Press Editor once represented Doyle on sentencing and appeal after the Columbus Board of Education had him arrested for “trespassing at the podium” at a School Board meeting. Of course, Doyle had the necessary speaker’s slip to speak at the podium that day, but the School Board decided to change the rules on the spot, and have him arrested.

That arrest led to his incarceration, and in the Franklin County Jail he was refused his diabetes medicine for a week. While he served in jail, his foot became infected and his leg was amputated below the knee.

This did not slow down Doyle’s activism. Jerry loved to stand up for underprivileged Columbus schoolchildren. During his “occupation” with Bill Moss at Nationwide Plaza, protesting the loss of tax dollars promised to the Columbus school district by the corporate behemoth, racist cartoons were circulated internally mocking his cries of “God Nose.” The exposure of these cartoons in the Free Press, caused Nationwide to apologize to Doyle.

Doyle received the Free Press Bill Moss award for an Outstanding African American activist for his years of community activity.

Jerry Doyle was a fighter for social justice, unbought, unbossed and his back was always unbent.