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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Arguments Over BLM Protest Arrests Heard In Court

george floyd protest cincinnati
Jason Whitman
Demonstrators rally at the Hamilton County Courthouse to protest the murder of George Floyd, Monday, June 1, 2020, in Cincinnati.

Updated: Wednesday, 12:10 p.m.

For more than two hours on Tuesday, arguments were heard in the Hamilton County Municipal Court regarding the potential dismissal of charges against protesters who were arrested by Cincinnati Police while protesting in support of the Black Lives Matter movement from May 29 to June 1.

Arguments largely centered around the 10 p.m. curfew that was put into place by Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley for the entirety of downtown. An attorney representing the Cincinnati Mass Defense Coalition said the curfew is invalid because City Council has the power to declare emergency, not the mayor.

"The mayor acted alone, so that effects the validity of each of these curfew orders," lawyer J. Robert Linneman said.

City Prosecutor Tim Horsley countered the curfew orders are valid, saying that the city was faced with an emergency and took the "proper and legal steps to do with it."

"The proof, I believe, is in the pudding," Horsley said. "After the curfew was lifted, peaceful protests resumed and have gone on since that time. That would have not been possible had that not occurred."

Horsley also pointed at the COVID-19 pandemic as reason to put forth the curfew.

"This also risked exposing officers to an infection that could be transmitted rapidly," Horsley said. "This is a very infectious virus as we’re all aware. That could create real problems that have dozens, who knows, maybe a hundred more peace officers infected with this virus during a public safety crisis. That would dictate that we needed to make a quick resolution of the unrest that was afoot."

More than 500 people were arrested during the protests and demonstrations. The people arrested face first degree misdemeanors, which could lead to a maximum 180-day jail sentence.

The next hearing will be held Oct. 7.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.