Curfew In Columbus; Ohio National Guard Called In To Help With Protests
Gov. Mike DeWine has called the Ohio National Guard in to help with protests in Columbus. And the city's mayor, Andrew Ginther, has imposed a curfew beginning at 10 p.m. that will last until 6 a.m., which he says could be extended if warranted.
DeWine says the Ohio State Highway Patrol will assist the National Guard to keep protests in Columbus from becoming dangerous and criminal.
DeWine says the protestors have a right to make their messages about racial injustice and police brutality heard. But he says some in the crowd have been violent and are drowning out the message most protestors are trying to send.
"Acts of violence cannot and will not be tolerated," DeWine says.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther says the city-wide curfew begins tonight and continues indefinitely.
Ginther says more than 100 properties were damaged last night alone. Two nights ago, damage was sustained at some key landmarks like the Statehouse and the Ohio Theatre.
Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan says the protests have transformed from peaceful into criminal acts. And he says police have not been able to respond quickly to some other 911 calls because they have been focused on controlling riots downtown.
Quinlan says he's also concerned that a large number of guns were taken from a gun store. He notes the police department has received threats that violence could be escalated.
Many protestors have accused the police of being heavy-handed. Pepper spray has been used often, sometimes on people who do not appear to be engaging in violent behavior.
Early Saturday, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D - Columbus), City Council President Shannon Hardin and Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce were hit with pepper spray launched by officers. Quinlan says the substance is meant to prompt protestors to retreat from potentially dangerous situations and to keep problems from worsening.
Ohio Adjutant General Major General John Harris Jr. says the Ohio National Guard has been trained to handle protests. Quinlan says bringing in the Guard will give officers a rest and help them maintain peaceful control over difficult situations.