Repairing damage to the Ohio Statehouse and surrounding Capitol Square that occurred during protests against racial injustice will cost about $158,000, according to the board that oversees the property.
That tally from protests in Columbus between May 28 and June 18 doesn’t include repairs for damage on other state property or expenses for the Ohio State Highway Patrol, according to the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board.
Windows broken at the Statehouse have been boarded up since protests in late May. In June, the Statehouse was defaced with red hand prints and the phrase “hands up, don’t shoot” in protest of police brutality. Lights, trash cans and a bench also were damaged, according to a statement from the Capitol Square board.
The board said it hired a professional service to remove graffiti from the limestone building and monuments on the property.
As a result of these recent protests, Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder has thought about making changes to who protects the Capitol.
The Speaker announced in late June that he was investigating whether the Ohio Capitol can be annexed from the City of Columbus’ city limits because the city did not protect the Capitol from protests.
“We’re researching it currently. If Columbus isn’t interested in protecting state property we need to consider removing Capitol Square from the City,” he said in an emailed statement.
On June 25, Householder appeared on the Ohio Christian Alliance Podcast News in Focus and said the protests were an “attack on our government and way of life and the things we believe in.”
The Speaker also said he was looking into legislation that would give the state attorney general prosecutorial power for crimes in downtown Columbus.
Two weeks after this statement, state Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Violet Township) introduced a bill that would allow the state attorney general the power to “investigate and prosecute vandalism on state property, including the Ohio Statehouse.”
“I support the constitutional right of people to peacefully assemble and protest. That’s an important cornerstone of our democracy,” LaRe said. “But destruction and violence is a crime. And when crimes are not prosecuted, it sends the message that the criminal activity is not only condoned but endorsed.”
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Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Star News Digital Media. If you have any tips, email Zachery at [email protected] Follow Zachery on Twitter @zacheryschmidt2. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Photo “George Floyd Protests” by Becker1999. CC BY 2.0.