COLUMBUS — Public outrage over the Floyd case prompted widespread civil unrest in Minneapolis and in several cities across the country, including Columbus late Thursday and into early Friday morning.
Pastor Terry Stephens, a Springfield native who now has a church in Columbus was at the protest in Columbus and described what happened.
“A young man was talking to an officer and the officer shoved him out of his face. That sort of erupted things,” Stephens said. Later, water bottles and rocks were thrown at police from people in the crowd of about 300.
Police tried to break up the crowd when the violence began. Within minutes people began attacking bus shelters and breaking the glass shelter walls. An assault on the Ohio Statehouse followed with people using garbage cans to break 28 windows on the historic building. Only then did Columbus police and the Ohio State Highway Patrol form a barrier to protect the building from the crowd.
Friday afternoon Gov. DeWine held a briefing to discuss the violent attack. He said as the State’s former Attorney General and county prosecutor, by instinct, he sees many of these incidents like the Floyd case as a matter of lack of police training.
DeWine repeated his long-running support for racial equality and people’s right to protest. He urged them to do it peacefully, declining to give details on security plans for the weekend. “I am not going to go into details about what preparations ae there. Talking about security is not generally a good thing. Obviously steps are being taken in case there is more violence,” DeWine said.
The governor added that he has talked with Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley since the incident about security in Ohio cities which may see additional protests. A demonstration is planned for Dayton on Saturday.
The Ohio Statehouse is the site of many protests throughout the year, more recently over the governor’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis. Each of those protests and all of the others held in recent history to focus on a variety of controversial issues, from reproductive rights to gun control, have been non-violent.
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