Statehouse Damaged As Nearby Protest Spills On To Capitol Square

May 29, 2020

UPDATE: Gov. Mike DeWine will hold a press conference to speak about "the events yesterday and this morning at the Ohio Statehouse and downtown Columbus" at 2pm Friday. It'll air live on the Ohio Channel.

A protest that started at an intersection near the Ohio Statehouse spilled over onto the grounds last night, resulting in damage to the 159-year old building - which has been the site of many demonstrations and public events over the years.

The event began as a protest against a confrontation between Minneapolis police and George Floyd, who died soon afterward. A widely circulated video of an officer with his knee on Floyd's neck has sparked protests in many U.S. cities.

In Columbus, the event began at Broad and High Streets, one of the four intersections surrounding the Ohio Statehouse. It started out peaceful, but as the night went on and police tried to disperse the crowd, tensions rose.

Video showed protestors shouting and police officers using pepper spray to push them back, as well as fireworks going from the protestors' side toward the police and cops using flashbangs to continue to drive the protestors south on High Street.

Around 11:30pm, some demonstrators picked up trash cans and threw them at the windows to smash them, and then tried to come in through the High Street entrance, which has been locked to public access for years.

The Ohio Highway Patrol confirms one person was able to get into the state auditor's ceremonial Statehouse office through a broken window, but left as soon as troopers arrived and was arrested outside the building by Columbus police.

Two tall lamps on that side of the building were damaged, and since those are more than a century old, the glass may be hard to replace. A few small flags in a display for forgotten soldiers on the east side of the Statehouse were set on fire last night. The remaining ones were pulled up by Statehouse grounds crew and brought inside.

Other buildings in downtown Columbus were damaged, including the Ohio Theatre across the street, the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) ticket office, and several businesses and condos.

Recently the Ohio Statehouse has been the site of protests of people calling for businesses to be reopened in Ohio.

But the building has been the backdrop for many protests over the years – over many major issues, over displays by the Ku Klux Klan and over the collective bargaining reform law known as Senate Bill 5, which brought thousands of people to the grounds in 2011. But windows weren’t broken or the property damaged in any of those.

The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board said 28 windows were smashed or cracked, the State Street entrance door was damaged along with the doors to the West Rotunda and five pole lamps on the West Plaza. There was some damage from the fire set to the small flags and some granite and a bench were damaged.