Protesters peaceful at Ohio Statehouse
COLUMBUS (AP) — Concerns over violent protests at the Ohio Statehouse on Sunday faded as a small number of armed but peaceful demonstrators were considerably outnumbered by state troopers and National Guard members during an afternoon rally.
More than two dozen protesters, some armed with assault-style rifles and wearing military garb, argued with one another, sometimes with competing bullhorns, about a mix of causes including government overreach and election fraud from noon to shortly after 2 p.m.
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said he was pleased with the outcome but stressed the state’s concerns over protests weren’t over.
DeWine said authorities “continue to have concerns for potential violence in the coming days, which is why I intend to maintain security levels at the Statehouse as we approach the presidential inauguration.”
DeWine last week ordered the Statehouse and surrounding state office buildings shut down through Wednesday over security concerns.
The protesters Sunday were observed by numerous troopers and National Guard members, whose members also guarded multiple points around the Statehouse, including every entrance.
Nearly every business around the downtown capital square was boarded up.
Several demonstrators said they were members of the anti-government Boogaloo movement, whose members espouse a coming civil war.
One member, a 28-year-old man who traveled to Ohio for the event, said he wants to make it clear that they are not here to support President Donald Trump, his movement or the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6. “This event has been in the works for over a year,” the man, who refused to give his name, said. “I got the opportunity to come to meet my friends here and I took it. It is 100 percent worth it.”
Another man, also 28, said those inspired by the Boogaloo movement were there to protest government overreach but have been falsely identified with the Make America Great Again movement.
“There is this negative image the media has painted us as definitely pro-Trumpers,” The Ohio native, who also refused to give his name, said while armed. “One of the reasons I’m out here today is to make the gray lines black and white. Because they see young white males with firearms and they automatically think that we are pro-Trumpers. The man said he hated Donald Trump, using an expletive to describe him.
One woman supporting Trump held a sign protesting social media platforms’ ban of right-wing content along with Trump’s removal from Twitter and Facebook.
“Well, I’m here to support the right to voice a political view or opinion without fear of censorship, harassment, or the threat of losing my job or being physically assaulted,” Kathy Sherman, 71, said. “We’re being mislabeled as traitors. This is absurd and it’s wrong.”
Sherman, a Columbus resident, who was wearing a visor with “Trump” printed on top of it, said she supports the president but distanced herself from the mob who breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.