Governor discusses protests expected to take place in Ohio
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSAZ) - While exercising First Amendment rights is encouraged by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, the lingering image of peaceful protests turning into violent riots at the United States Capitol have the state’s law enforcement preparing for further action.
“We must always protect the rights of peaceful protestors... we will also just as vigorously resist violence” DeWine said.
The governor held a news conference Thursday morning about the protests expected in the state in the coming days.
The governor was joined by the Columbus mayor, the Columbus Police chief, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio National Guard.
Troopers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol will be out in force in Columbus, along with the Ohio National Guard. The Guard will be a backup for local law enforcement and state police.
“We’ve rehearsed formations with the state patrol, we’ve worked with both of these entities before and if we’re asked to integrate with them in order to help control crowds, we’re prepared to go to that level,” Maj. Gen. John Harris said.
The governor signed a proclamation that officially mobilizes the guard to be in Columbus and anywhere in the state where they are needed.
DeWine also authorized the deployment of 500 more members of the ONG. Seven hundred members will be in the Capitol area in Washington or close by. These guard members will assist federal authorities.
The governor says he is ordering the statehouse to be closed Sunday through Wednesday (Inauguration Day).
All state office buildings in downtown Columbus will be closed on those four days, as well.
When it comes to armed protesters, open carry and sealed carry with a permit is legally allowed on the outside grounds of the State Capitol. However, if anything escalates law enforcement will be there.
“If they’re engaged in provocative behaviors that rise to the level of illegal activities, then they should expect to encounter law enforcement” Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan said.
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