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Columbus To Close City Buildings Over Inauguration Protest Concerns

Law enforcement erected barriers at the Ohio Statehouse ahead of potentially armed protests on Sunday.
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
Law enforcement erected barriers at the Ohio Statehouse ahead of potentially armed protests on Sunday.

The city of Columbus announced that it will close City Hall and surrounding buildings Tuesday and Wednesday to promote safety around President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. They will already be closed Monday, January 18 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The following buildings will be closed to the public:

  • City Hall, 90 West Broad Street
  • 77 North Front Street
  • Michael B. Coleman Government Center, 111 North Front Street
  • Beacon Building, 50 West Gay Street

“We’ve asked all employees who can work remotely to do so during this time,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther in a press conference Friday.
The Ohio Statehouse will also be closed starting Sunday-Wednesday, as the Ohio National Guard, Columbus Police and other law enforcement prepare for potential armed protests this weekend. Windows at the Statehouse have already been boarded up, and barriers were raised in front of the building entrances.

Ginther is urging people to stay out of the downtown area during that timeframe, and refrain from going near the protests.

“City and state leaders have partnered with all the appropriate stakeholders to engage the resources needed to safeguard our community,” said Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan. “No resource that has been requested has been denied.”

Quinlan declined to share specifics about security measures so that protestors do not compromise any plans.

After the pro-Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which left five people dead and more injured, the FBI this week issued warnings about potentially armed rallies planned in all state capitals and in Washington, D.C. before the January 20 inauguration. Columbus was singled out as one of the cities where armed protesters planned to march.

Columbus City Council president Shannon Hardin suggested people strike up conversations with neighbors and loved ones rather than go downtown unnecessarily.

“The numbers that will potentially show up on the streets for hate and conspiracy theories, that number will be dwarfed by the number of folks who support justice and a better tomorrow,” Hardin said. “So I repeat it again, stay home and stay away from the foolishness.”

On Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine signed a proclamation authorizing 580 Ohio National Guard members to mobilize to Columbus or anywhere else they might be needed in the state. The state is also sending 1,000 guard members are heading to D.C. to help with the inauguration.

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.