Ohio National Guard now stationed in Columbus streets; protesters gather near Statehouse

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — After three days of protests in downtown Columbus, the Ohio National Guard is now stationed along several Columbus streets.

Governor DeWine activated The National Guard Saturday at the request of Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther.

“There is a small number of violent individuals who pose a specific threat and a real threat to our law enforcement officers and to the safety of the people of Columbus and Franklin County,” DeWine said.

“I understand the anger and frustration that has led to these protests and I share them,” Ginther said. “Racism and discrimination are threats to the quality of life, health, and safety of our community.”

Protesters again gathered outside the Ohio Statehouse Sunday afternoon. At one point, protesters turned to a police van and chanted, ‘Who do you serve?’

The protest group eventually left the Statehouse, moving west on Broad Street.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost says he will be outside the Rhodes State Office Tower Sunday morning.

“At 10 a.m. this morning, I’ll be on the sidewalk in front of the Rhodes tower with a broom and a flat shovel to help clean up our city,” said Yost on Twitter. “There is a time to tear down, and a time to build up. Who will join me?”

For the third day, protesters gathered outside the Ohio Statehouse Saturday, demonstrating against police brutality after the death of 46-year-old George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis police custody on Monday.

Saturday’s protest in Columbus started peaceful, but turned destructive and violent at times. There were reports of broken windows, graffiti and looting in the downtown Columbus and Short North areas.

Rep. Joyce Beatty told NBC4 she and Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin were pepper sprayed while trying to intervene in an incident where a protester was scuffling with police.

Two fires were reported late Saturday and early Sunday. The first involved construction equipment near Oak Street and 5th Street. A three-alarm fire was reported at an empty apartment complex under construction near Topiary Park around 3 a.m.

According to Columbus Fire Chief Steve Martin, the apartment building fire is considered suspicious.

Fifty-nine people were arrested over the course of protests throughout Columbus since Saturday.

A 10pm to 6am curfew was announced Saturday, with no end date announced. Anyone outside during those times without authorization can be arrested.

All downtown Columbus streets are closed indefinitely, according to CPD. Anyone working downtown will need to show ID.

Exemptions from the curfew include:

  • Law enforcement, fire, and medical personnel
  • Members of the news media
  • Individuals traveling directly to and from work
  • Individuals seeking care, fleeing dangerous circumstances, or experiencing homelessness

Governor DeWine said the National Guard would be used to assist Columbus police.

“I understand the anger and frustration that has led to these protests – and I share them. Racism, discrimination and injustice have led us to this moment. I want to assure our residents we are making real change and are committed to confronting racism where we see it,” Ginther said during a press conference Saturday afternoon. “But at this moment some people are intent on causing chaos and destruction, not on creating positive change in our community and threaten to drown out the voice of demanding justice and our collective safety.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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