COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Leaders with the city of Columbus are addressing the possible protests happening during the upcoming presidential inauguration.
Mayor Andrew Ginther was joined Friday morning by U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, Ohio State Senator Stephanie Kunze, Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin, and Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan to discuss the possible protests of the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
For safety reasons, the mayor announced Friday that the City of Columbus downtown campus will be closed from Tuesday, January 19, through Wednesday, January 20.
All government buildings will also be closed on Monday, January 18, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Those buildings include:
- City Hall, 90 West Broad Street
- 77 North Front Street
- Michael B. Coleman Government Center, 111 North Front Street
- Beacon Building, 50 West Gay Street
Employees who regularly work in the downtown campus have been asked to work remotely, if possible.
“Avoid planned protests this weekend and leading up to the inauguration,” Ginther said. “And if you see something, say something (to police).”
“Let’s drown out the messages of hate with messages of peace, unity and reform,” Ginther said.
Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, who was inside the Capitol during the Washington, D.C. insurrection on January 6, urged citizens to stay safe and protect each other.
“We are on the front door of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday celebration,” Rep. Beatty said before quoting MLK: “It’s always the right time to do something right.”
Columbus Division of Police Chief Thomas Quinlan urged citizens to limit their risk by avoiding the downtown area, if possible, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Quinlan also said that CPD officers will be wearing body cameras and are prepared to handle any issues that may arise.
Although he acknowledged the First Amendment right to peaceful protest, Quinlan said anyone breaking the law will be arrested and sent to jail.
“We have extensive plans in place to address hazards,” Quinlan said. “We have extensively prepared and stand ready.”
On Thursday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed a proclamation mobilizing the Ohio National Guard ahead of the expected protests.
Troopers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol will also be at the Statehouse to help with security.
DeWine also announced that that the Statehouse would be closed Sunday through Wednesday as a precaution, as well as all state office buildings in downtown Columbus.