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Gov. DeWine Activates Ohio National Guard, Columbus Placed Under Curfew

Gov. Mike DeWine is calling the Ohio National Guard into service after three days of violent protests in downtown Columbus.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced a city-wide curfew from 10 p.m.-6 a.m. beginning Saturday. Anyone on the streets past then can be arrested, he said. 

Ginther said the curfew, which will remain in place indefinitely, is necessary to protect the city's infrastructure. The city has closed all downtown streets indefinitely.

The mayor said more than 100 properties were damaged in Columbus on Friday night.

"We are now at a point where we can no longer tell the difference between who is protesting for change and an end to racism and who has only chaos and destruction in mind," Ginther said.

DeWine, at the request of Ginther and Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan, also ordered the Ohio Highway Patrol to help law enforcement officers in Franklin County. Quinlan said that police haven't been able to respond to regular 911 calls because of the protests, which he said transformed from peaceful protests into "criminal riots."

"The voices calling for justice, the voices calling for change, are sadly being drowned out by a smaller group of violent individuals," DeWine said. "These violent individuals threaten the safety of our citizens of the community. Acts of violence cannot and will not be tolerated.

Other Ohio cities, including ClevelandCincinnati and Dayton, have also initiated curfews.

Original Story

Earlier Saturday, Columbus Police declared an emergency in downtown Columbus amid a third day of clashes between officers and protesters.

"Please stay out of the downtown area for your safety and the safety of others," the department said in a tweet. "Safety of everyone - protesters and police - is paramount. We're calling for everyone to remain calm," wrote Mayor Andrew Ginther.

SinceThursday night, protests have taken place in downtown Columbus in solidarity with George Floyd, an African American man killed by Minneapolis Police.

On Friday, after peaceful protests temporarily blocked traffic the South Side, hundreds of demonstrators descended on downtown, where they were met by heavily armored officers and tear gas.

Protests began again Saturday morning in front of the Ohio Statehouse. Demonstrators marched peacefully, some carrying signs with the names of black people who have been killed by police. Others shouted chants like "No justice, no peace" and "I can't breathe."

State troopers lined the steps of the Ohio Statehouse to block people from accessing the building.

At some point around noon, Columbus Police deployed pepper spray and tear gas on a large crowd that included U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), Columbus City Council president Shannon Hardin and Franklin County commissioner Kevin Boyce.

"It got a little out of hand. I did get sprayed, Congresswoman got a little sprayed, but we are OK," Hardin said in a Twitter video. "We are encouraging folks to keep calm, we understand that tensions are high. Our tensions are high as well, we are angry as all get out. And we need change, but the only way we will get change is by peaceful demonstrations."

Tennisha English carried a sign with the names of black girls who were killed by police officers.

"I used to hear stories from my grandparents growing up and I would think, 'Oh no, those things don't happen,'" English says. "'Cause you know when you're younger, those things don't happen. Now being a woman, it's crazy."

English says she came out to support her daughter, who is black.

"I have a 3-year-old daughter, and I can't imagine anyone not liking her or hating her because she's black," English says.

Brielle Hudson and Ronald Yates joined the early portion of the protest, which started at 10 a.m. They're dating and say they want to have children one day.

"And hearing (George Floyd) call out for his mother, I couldn't, that was all of our mothers, that was all of us," Hudson said. "I can't just stand by and let the CPD or any other police department think this is okay at all."

Yates says they wanted to express solidarity in a calm atmosphere.

"As a black man, I know this is something almost every black man has horror stories of or encounters of the police," Yates says. "This is just an opportunity for us to show that we're watching and that we acknowledge the stuff that they're doing to us, whether they will or not."

Saturday evening, Hardin released a statement saying "the time to institute real police reform is now." He called for Columbus to establish independent investigations into police use of force and a civil review commission—something that community activists have demanded for years. Hardin also said the city must implement recommendations for police training and policies laid out in a 2019 outside report.

That report also found wide racial disparities in police use-of-force and perception. In 2017, the report found, 51% of the department’s use-of-force cases involved black people, compared to 26% involving white people, a mirror opposite of the city's population.

In a statement, Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge 9 president Keith Ferrell said that "the negative characterization that the Mayor painted this department with yesterday was unfair and wrong."

Ferrell said officers have a duty to stop the "senseless" destruction of property, and that "officers feel as if their hands are being tied by the Mayor and his administration."

This article will be updated with more details as the story develops.

Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.
Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.
Nick Houser leads the digital media team and oversees all things digital, including wosu.org, digital content, the WOSU Public Media Mobile App, social media, enewsletters, podcasts and on-demand video.