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Arrest Records Contradict Claims By Columbus Mayor, Police Chief About Outside Agitators

People hand out water bottles and supplies as protesters march on High Street in Columbus on June 2, 2020.
Paige Pfleger
People hand out water bottles and supplies as protesters march on High Street in Columbus on June 2, 2020.

Columbus Police arrest records released Wednesday contradict repeated claims by Mayor Andrew Ginther and Chief Tom Quinlan that the destructive elements of local protests were led by "outside agitators."According to records obtained by WOSU, of the 89 people arrested by Columbus Police during demonstrations Friday through Tuesday, 84 live in Central Ohio ZIP codes. At least 55 of those arrested are Columbus residents.

Columbus Police identified 46 of those arrested as white, and 43 as black.

Between May 29-June 2, most of the arrests reported during protests were for non-violent minor offenses like failure to disperse and curfew violations.

Columbus residents also make up the overwhelming majority of those facing the most serious charges. Of the 13 people arrested on rioting and aggravating rioting charges, 11 live in Columbus. One ZIP code was shielded by police for unknown reasons.

All four people charged with breaking and entering during protests listed Columbus ZIP codes.

The one person arrested for assaulting a police officer had a Heath address, in Licking County east of Columbus.

Ginther, Quinlan and City Council President Shannon Hardin have all sought to lay most of the blame for damage on people from outside the region. On Tuesday, Ginther alleged there was a "criminal element" who "have come from outside to destroy our community, to commit violence, to attack our officers."

Ginther repeated those unfounded claims Wednesday on WOSU's All Sides with Ann Fisher, despite the findings of arrest records.

“There are reports of folks that are organizing and conducting criminal activity under the guise of being part of this movement of peaceful protesters," Ginther said. "That may not be reflected in the arrests thus far, but clearly the intelligence from the Division of Police and what we’re gathering from the state clearly indicates that there are folks that are coming from outside Central Ohio that are engaging in these activities."

Ginther declined to share the nature or basis of that intelligence. When asked where people were reported to be coming from, Ginther answered, “There are lot of folks from around Ohio that are involved with fringe elements, and there are some folks from outside the state.”

After being asked about the Central Ohio ZIP codes of most arrested protesters, Ginther responded, “There are folks that have been arrested that have been part of those criminal activities as well, but it’s a very small minority considering the overwhelming number of peaceful protesters.”

Similar claims have proven false in Cleveland, as well. "We know that a lot of things that happened today were people that do not reside in the City of Cleveland or in this area," said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams on Sunday.

However, nearly all arrested protesters who were arraigned Monday listed addresses in Northeast Ohio. Of the 120 people booked in to the Cuyahoga County jail for any offenses over the weekend, none were from outside Ohio.

Protests have taken place in Columbus and cities around the nation after video emerged of the Minneapolis Police killing of George Floyd. Floyd, who was black, was killed by a white officer who has since been charged with murder.

Columbus remains under a 10 p.m. curfew.