More Ohio National Guard Called Up For "Armed March" Planned This Weekend
Saying "violence will not be tolerated in Ohio", Gov. Mike DeWine says the Highway Patrol and the Ohio National Guard will back up Columbus police forces for a planned "armed march" by right-wing and pro-Trump supporters this weekend.
DeWine said 700 members of the Ohio National Guard will be in Washington DC. About 20,000 National Guard personnel are expected in the US Capitol for the inauguration of President Joe Biden on January 20. Another 580 National Guard members will be working here in Ohio.
DeWine is also ordering the closure of the Ohio Statehouse and all state office buildings starting on Sunday. They'll be closed through Inauguration Day on Wednesday.
Democratic Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther joined the Republican DeWine for the announcement, saying, "Hate has no place in Columbus, Ohio or the United States of America."
Ginther urged people to avoid protests this weekend and in the next few days, and he suggested people be aware of their surroundings for the next few days. Ginther is also asking that protestors wear masks. Most police officers in Ohio have not yet received vaccines against COVID-19. Most EMT's and firefighters were among the first to be eligible to get the vaccine.
There's been reporting of "armed marches" planned for all 50 state capitals, and that Columbus may be a target in particular. A protest in front of the Statehouse on January 6, as Congress certified Biden's Electoral College win, turned violent, though there were no arrests.
Concealed carry permit holders are allowed to carry on the Statehouse grounds, and gun owners are permitted to open carry there as well. But weapons are not allowed in the buildings, which have metal detectors at entrances.
Watch: DeWine answers question about safety at Ohio Statehouse
DeWine says he doesn't want to tell anyone not to exercise their first amendment right. But when asked if he believes the Statehouse will be safe this weekend, he recommends avoiding the area given the violent pro-Trump insurrection that just occurred at the U.S. Capitol.
"If you're a protester that wants to protest whatever you want to protest and you go down there to the state house, I would be concerned that you would be in there with other people who are different than you. They're violent. They're not. After exercising their First Amendment rights, they're there to commit violence," DeWine says.
Windows at the Statehouse are being boarded up, as they were after the Statehouse was vandalized in protests this summer following the killing of George Floyd. Several downtown Columbus businesses have also boarded up their windows as well.
Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau