COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine held a news conference Friday, to talk about the protests that happened in downtown Columbus, Thursday night.
“While Fran and I feel sorrow and disgust at what we saw, we cannot fully comprehend or imagine what an African American family must feel looking at that,” DeWine said.
Floyd was restrained by officer Derek Chauvin, who dug his knee into Floyd’s neck.
Chauvin was arrested Friday and charged with third degree murder and manslaughter.
“This officer’s conduct violated every principle of human decency, but it also violated any kind of basic police training,” DeWine said.
Peaceful protests in Columbus turned violent when some involved began throwing objects at police officers. Police responded by using tear gas to push the crowd back. The crowd let up, but an hour later the protest escalated when demonstrators smashed windows at the Ohio Statehouse while some went inside the building.
SWAT arrived on the scene soon after the Statehouse break-in. Officers used a loudspeaker to announce an emergency was declared in the area, meaning any protesters who refused to leave would be arrested.
The protestors in Columbus chanted, “Black Lives Matter” and “Say His Name” in reference to Floyd and “I Can’t Breathe” in reference to the 2014 death of Eric Garner. Garner was placed in a choke hold during an arrest and officer Daniel Pantaleo kept him in the choke hold while Garner told the officers “I can’t breathe” several times.
A grand jury decided to not indict Pantaleo.
“Protests expressing outrage are not only understandable, they are appropriate,” DeWine said. “Ohioans should speak out against wrongdoing. Ohioans should speak out for change . . . I ask my fellow Ohio citizens today as you gather in protest in the coming days throughout Ohio, regardless of the issue, please do so peacefully. We must not fight violence with more violence.”
Columbus police say several businesses were damaged during the protests, and multiple people were detained.
“It’s OK, to exercise your amendment rights and your freedom of speech, and we encourage that. It’s OK to do that. However, it is not acceptable to exercise those amendment rights and then turn to criminal actions such as criminal damaging and vandalism,” said Sgt. James Fuqua with the Columbus Division of Police.
“We understand people are hurt and outraged. Deputies will uphold the public’s right to protest peacefully, but acts of violence and criminal damaging won’t be tolerated. I want to be clear the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is listening. In recent years, we have established a Community Advisory Board that serves as a liaison between the public and law enforcement, and our deputies routinely attend block watch and community meetings, and town hall forums. The FCSO is committed to hearing the concerns, frustrations, fears, and needs of the people we have sworn to protect and serve. It is my sincere hope that the sheriff’s office will continue to play a meaningful role in building a bridge of trust, and promoting healing,” Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin released in a statement.
“The Columbus Police officers who responded to the Statehouse area yesterday put their own lives at risk and did an excellent job,” DeWine said. “The vast majority, almost all police officers do a good job. But we have a moral obligation to make sure every officer, all 35,000, have the proper training.”
According to a release from State House officials, the following damage was reported after the protests:
Windows: 28 Statehouse window panes shattered along the West and South sides of the Statehouse, as well as damage to the wood frames.
· Damage to the State St. door
· Damage to the West Rotunda doors
- West Plaza
- 5 Pole Lamps
- North Plaza
- No Damage
- East Plaza
- Fire damage to flags in flower beds
- Flower bed damage from fire
- South Plaza
- Bench, SE Node (Granite and bench damaged)
There was no damage to the Atrium or Senate Building. Many of the trash cans on the exterior were dumped and thrown. Some cans missing, lids missing, cans dented.
The protest did not reach the level of escalation experienced in Minneapolis on Wednesday and Thursday, which included rioting, looting and fires set across the city including one inside the Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct.
The four officers involved in Floyd’s arrest have since been fired, and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said on Wednesday Chauvin should be charged in the death of Floyd.