COLUMBUS — As warnings of armed, potentially violent protests, continue, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced the closure of state government buildings in Columbus for four days.
DeWine, who also announced Friday the activation of an additional 200 Ohio National Guard troops in response to FBI indications of threats to every state capitol over the coming weekend, said the Ohio State Patrol, along with Columbus Police will have a significant presence in Columbus over the weekend.
“We must always, and will always, respect the rights of peaceful protesters, however, the sad truth is that there are people in our country who want to turn peaceful protests into opportunities for violence,” DeWine said. “Just as we respect and will protect peaceful protesters, we will also just as vigorously resist violence. Violence will not be tolerated in Ohio.”
From Sunday through Wednesday, the Ohio Statehouse will be closed. Also, downtown state office buildings in Columbus, including state-managed buildings, will be closed. DeWine, along with House Speaker Bob Cupp and Senate President Matt Huffman, said state personnel should report to alternate work locations.
“In the coming days, we will not allow hate, violence or destruction to be part of our city,” Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said. “Our constitution gives everyone the right to protest peacefully. It does not give anyone the right to incite violence, harm or to intimidate others or destroy property. This is not a partisan issue. It is our responsibility as Americans and elected leaders to protect the safety of our residents and defend our city, state and nation against those who seek to tear it down.”
In all, around 1,400 Ohio National Guard soldiers and airmen, including its Homeland Response Force, have been activated to support local, state and federal authorities over the coming days, according to Stephanie Beougher, spokeswoman for the Ohio adjutant general’s department.
The FBI warning comes after supporters of President Donald Trump rioted at the U.S. Capitol, resulting in five deaths, more than a week ago.
Officials have said FBI reports say armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from this weekend through at least Jan. 20. The FBI also said additional threats have been made if Trump is removed from office before Jan. 20.