COLUMBUS, Ohio – Gov. Mike DeWine held a briefing Thursday morning where he announced the Ohio Statehouse and government buildings in Columbus will be closed between January 17 and January 20. Next Wednesday, Joe Biden will be inaugurated as president.
Also, the governor signed a proclamation mobilizing hundreds of Ohio National Guard members to be utilized as needed in Columbus and around Ohio. To assist federal authorities in D.C. DeWine, ordered 580 ONG members active earlier in the week.
Governor DeWine has just signed a proclamation that mobilizes the @OHNationalGuard to assist in ensuring that the laws of Ohio are faithfully executed and to assist state and local authorities with protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of this state. pic.twitter.com/XM2tBMdAW1
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) January 14, 2021
The proclamation comes eight days after violence at the United States Capitol, rumors that protests will be held at the Statehouse over the next week and discussions between the governor, Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R-District 12) and Ohio House of Representatives Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Shawnee Twp.).
When asked if he had specific evidence to support the claim of upcoming armed protests, the governor refused to discuss security intelligence and said there is always concern – especially after events in D.C. last week.
At his briefing, DeWine was joined by Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther (D), Columbus Police (CPD) Chief Thomas Quinlan, Ohio National Guard Major General John C. Harris, Jr., and Ohio State Highway Patrol Colonel Richard Fambro.
Ginther said the events in D.C. last week were “vile” and not who we are as Americans. He alleged that threats are being “brought to our doorstep – to the steps of the Statehouse,” and they represent our worst elements that cannot be ignored and must be rooted out.
Also, the Columbus mayor said he and the governor have worked together the past year and that Columbus Police, the Ohio National Guard, Homeland Security and the FBI are all banding together to do their part to keep the United States, Ohio and Columbus safe.
“Our constitution gives everyone the right to protest peacefully,” said Ginther, who continued “It does not give anyone the right to incite violence, harm, or to intimidate others or destroy property. This is not a partisan issue. It is our responsibility as Americans and elected leaders to protect the safety of our residents and defend our city, state, and nation against those who seek to tear it down.”
Facts are important. The City has never called for our officers to “stand down.” This has been reported repeatedly by news organizations throughout Columbus.
— Mayor Andrew Ginther (@MayorGinther) June 20, 2020
Violence, harm, intimidation and destruction – to government property, businesses and personal property – all took place in Columbus last summer during protests and riots. At that time law enforcement insiders said Mayor Ginther ordered officers to stand down – a command Ginther denied.
A dispatcher, and confidential sources inside CPD, indicated that Ginter did, indeed, order a stand down. The tweet below contains audio of a CPD dispatcher who said officers were instructed to stand down.
Just did… pic.twitter.com/sEmbZeDGq0
— jackwindsor (@jackwindsor) June 19, 2020
A Columbus newspaper investigation also revealed the Mayor’s Office had taken charge of CPD communications during the summer riots.
On Thursday, the mayor encouraged people to stay away from downtown until after the inauguration, to leave if they are at the Statehouse or downtown and don’t feel safe and to seek help if they see something suspicious.
The Ohio National Guard, Columbus Police and the Ohio Highway Patrol will provide a significant presence downtown leading up to the Presidential Inauguration. Hundreds of Ohio National Guards will be sent to the D.C. region – the special Homeland Security Force and members who can support critical infrastructure, traffic control, communications and crowd control, according to Maj. Gen. Harris.
All participants echoed the sentiment that the First Amendment protects the right to assemble and protest peacefully – all also indicated that violence and destructive behavior will not be tolerated.
Harris, Quinlan and Fambro acknowledged a few bad actors use rallies and protests attended by law-abiding citizens as a cover for their criminal behavior.
The full briefing can be viewed below.
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