Adrienne Hood’s Calling
A tragedy inspires a mother’s crusade against police violence.
The moms showed up shortly after it happened. They told her what life would be like now. How the police investigation would unfold. What the media would say. The way the prosecutor would seem so kind in the beginning.
She wrote some of it down. It turned into a reliable checklist. Never mind that there was only one Henry Green V, only one Bub, only one funny kid with the wide grin and gentle eyes, only one 23-year-old shot seven times on June 6, 2016, on the streets in South Linden, only one mom left to sit in the quiet agony that followed.
Adrienne Hood’s story was hers, but it wasn’t unique. It played out almost exactly as the other mothers had predicted. She’d joined their club the moment a bullet hit Bub in the chest.
The “involuntary club,” she calls it.
“We call it the club you never want to join,” says Hood’s close friend Sabrina Jordan, whose son Jamarco McShann was shot and killed by police officers in Moraine, near Dayton, in 2017. “It’s hard for people on the outside to understand that loss.”
But its members keep growing—women who don’t just lose their sons and daughters but lose them suddenly, often violently, at the hands of police officers, and have to endure what comes next. For some, that’s a spectacle of high-profile memorial services and marches calling for justice. For others, it’s weeks of watching their child’s every misdeed dragged through the press.
For Hood, it’s become a calling. “It’s an unfortunate reason as to why people have come to know who I am,” she says.
Hood is 48, a homeowner in Forest Park East, a U.S. Army veteran, a twice-divorced grandmother of three with another on the way. She’s profoundly religious, tapped into the love of a God she feels so deeply in her soul that she can barely explain it. Columbus, too, is in her bones. She left here briefly when she joined the military but otherwise stayed close to the neighborhood where she grew up the oldest of seven kids.
Linden, long before it became known as “Columbus’ most deadly neighborhood,” was a working-class community where kids roamed free and people were just trying to make a living, she says. “When I was a little girl, our community looked the same as many other communities. We didn’t lock our doors, either.”
But Linden changed when drugs flooded the neighborhood and destroyed many of its families, including her own, Hood says. It never recovered. As time went by, Linden only made the news when something bad was going on, and Hood began to wonder who was keeping her community down, and why. The place felt starved.
South Linden is still home for much of her family, and it’s where Green was the evening he was shot by two undercover Columbus police officers after an altercation in the street. Hood was dropping her other son off to play basketball when her sister called her, shouting something unintelligible into the phone.
At OhioHealth Grant Medical Center, Hood knew before anyone said a word. “He didn’t make it, did he?” she asked the surgeon, and when he lowered his head, she began to wail. “From that point,” she says, “things just went chaotic really, really quick.”
Henry Green was the fifth in a line of Henry Greens, the middle and most laid-back of Hood’s three children. He was so quiet that his teachers used to say they’d forget he was in the classroom. His family called him Bub. He inherited his dad’s name and sharp sense of humor. He graduated in 2011 from the now-shuttered Brookhaven High School but was never a fan of school, especially math, where he questioned why he had to write down the work he could do in his head.
“And I’m just like, ‘Son, because it’s the rule,’” Hood says. “‘They don’t know what’s in your head. Just do it. Let’s just end this, and just do it.’”
Rules were important to Hood. It was a combination of her upbringing and her military training. You just did what you were supposed to and kept your head up and aware of what was around you. She tried to impart this to her children, especially her sons: You carry the burden of being Black and male, she’d tell them, and because of that, you can’t move around the world like everybody else. But if you do what you’re supposed to do and be where you’re supposed to be, you’re going to be OK. “I think that was probably one of the bigger battles for me in the beginning,” she says. “Almost feeling like I had fed my kids a lie.”
Columbus police said Green’s death was within policy. A Franklin County grand jury declined to indict the officers. Before he was named Columbus police chief, Thomas Quinlan wrote a 2018 report that cleared officers Zachary Rosen and Jason Bare of any wrongdoing and said that Green had fired first, shooting at the officers even after one identified himself as police. “It’s one of the most clear-cut shootings I’ve ever seen,” Jason Pappas, vice president of Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9, told The Columbus Dispatch in 2018, “so I’m not surprised at all that it will be cleared as a good shooting.”
But witness accounts of the shootout—who started it and whether the officers clearly identified themselves—were conflicting. In 2017, Hood filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the officers, the city of Columbus and several leaders within the Columbus Division of Police. A federal judge dismissed the suit, but Hood and her lawyer, Sean Walton, successfully appealed. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to U.S. District Court for further consideration of the shots Rosen and Bare may have fired at Green after he was no longer a threat. The case is set for trial in April.
“It’s very difficult to actually get a trial on police excessive force cases due to qualified immunity,” which often shields police officers from such lawsuits, Walton says. “Even getting to this point is a victory.”
But Hood is chasing a much bigger win. Over the past 4 ½ years, she has emerged as a leader of the local movement against police brutality, progressing beyond protests to walk among—and hold accountable—those who have power to enact change.
“The heart of a man and the culture is the issue,” she says. “Just getting people to see that this is a real thing and we can do something about it, that’s my bigger thing now. We can do something about it. And what does that look like? It looks like putting legislators and people in places that are not afraid to support these changes.”
In 2020, she was elected to the Franklin County Democratic Party Central Committee representing Ward 54, and in early 2021, she was one of 205 applicants for the city’s new Civilian Review Board. A reluctant public speaker, she now has a TEDx Talk to her name and recently was invited to a panel at the Columbus Metropolitan Club, where she told the audience of high-profile community leaders that there can be no discussion of healing from racism until we have the conversation of pain.
“She has been present. That’s the one word that I think of when I think of Adrienne. She has been present,” says the Rev. Tim Ahrens, the senior minister at First Congregational Church in Downtown Columbus and a vocal critic of the Columbus Division of Police. “And she continues to be a witness for justice not just for her son, but for all the young men and women who’ve been shot in this city.”
But Hood has found that being present is steady, grueling work. It means showing up at the other involuntary club funerals, even though they open your own wounds. It means questioning every promise a politician makes and every motive that brings someone to your door. It means knowing that things aren’t going to change just because they should.
“It’s traumatic. It’s very traumatic,” says Jordan, who met Hood the year after her own son was shot. “This type of work, you very seldom ever come out with a high, with that sense of ‘Yes, we’re doing it.’ It’s more lows than anything—like beating your head against a wall constantly.”
Lately, though, there have been a few breakthroughs. The Civilian Review Board, which elders in Hood’s community have been requesting for decades, is now set to be seated by spring. The Columbus police chief whose firing Hood lobbied hard for is gone—Quinlan was demoted in January with a sharp rebuke from Mayor Andy Ginther: “Columbus residents have lost faith in him and in [the police division’s] ability to change on its own.” On Feb. 1, Columbus City Council approved “Andre’s Law,” which added stronger punishments for officers who fail to turn on body cameras and administer first aid to people injured by police.
And a day later there was another police-involved shooting in South Linden.
Hood has learned to be suspicious of momentum. She’s seen the people come and go. But lately, it feels like maybe they’re sticking around. When George Floyd was killed in 2020 by police in Minnesota, she watched a city, her city, respond with anger and impatience she’d never seen before.
“I was really, really surprised about how Columbus showed up when George Floyd was killed,” she says. “Usually, there’ll be a shooting and the community will come out and then go back to their lives. This time the community came, they didn’t go home, they tore this city up and have continued to be out there.”
Hood, of course, is out there, too. She was already there, crying out for her kid, for your kid, for the present and future members of the involuntary club, for the people who can’t hear her, for the people who refuse to listen. She’s been out there for years. She’ll be out there for as long as it takes.