Ohio Statehouse, state offices to close amid protest threat

State

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Statehouse and other state buildings in downtown Columbus will be closed through Inauguration Day as police officers, National Guard members and state troopers provide security and authorities prepare for possible protests by supporters of President Donald Trump, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday.

“The sad truth is that there are people in our country who want to turn peaceful protests into an opportunity for violence,” said DeWine, a Republican, at a news briefing. “These are violent people, and their violence will not be tolerated in Ohio.”

The governor was joined by Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and leaders of the state’s highway patrol and National Guard forces to announce further restrictions after a violent mob loyal to Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol last week, forcing congressional members to take cover and resulting in the death of five people, including a Capitol Police officer.

DeWine had authorized National Guard members from Jan. 14 to Jan. 21 to conduct training and be prepared in case called upon to police the armed riots authorities say are planned at the U.S. Capitol and the Ohio Statehouse. More than 700 National Guard members in Ohio will be sent to Washington. Inauguration Day is Wednesday, Jan. 20.

DeWine and state and local officials took it a step further Thursday, calling for the closure of the Ohio Statehouse and all state buildings in downtown Columbus from Sunday to Thursday next week.

“Finally, it’s time, I believe, for us to come together as a country, as we always do,” DeWine said. “It is time for us to observe the peaceful transfer of power and to remind ourselves of what brings us together, binds us together, holds us together as Americans, a love for freedom and liberty, a love for our Constitution.”

He added, “That is what we will celebrate in the days ahead.”

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Farnoush Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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