Gov. DeWine deploys National Guard for protests ahead of Inauguration Day; statehouse will close

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The statehouse will close on Sunday, and Gov. Mike DeWine signed a proclamation to mobilize the National Guard in anticipation of protests this weekend and leading up to Inauguration Day.

DeWine signed the proclamation during a Thursday morning press conference with Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and other law enforcement officials. Watch DeWine’s full press conference in the player below:

Gov. DeWine deploys National Guard for protests ahead of Inauguration Day; statehouse will close

The FBI this week warned local jurisdictions of armed protests planned between now and Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C., and outside state government buildings in all 50 states. The warning comes days after President Donald Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, a violent incident that left five dead.

With an armed march planned in Columbus this weekend, DeWine said he has activated nearly 600 members of the National Guard and will deploy them as needed to cities across the state over the next 10 days.

DeWine said security has always been a priority at the statehouse, but he feels there needs to be a “heightened” sense of security after Trump supporters violently breached the Capitol last week.

“Our First Amendment rights are sacred. We must always, and will always, respect the rights of peaceful protesters. However, I think all Americans were horrified by what we saw just a few days ago in our nation’s Capitol, where a mob attacked the Capitol, where individuals died as a result, and really where the Constitution itself was under attack,” DeWine said.

In addition to the National Guard, the Ohio State Highway Patrol will have a significant presence in Columbus over the weekend. Additionally, DeWine said he is deploying “several hundred” members of the Ohio National Guard to assist in Washington D.C.

DeWine said he was concerned about small businesses being damaged in downtown Columbus. In addition to closing the statehouse on Sunday, all state government buildings will also be closed.

Ginther said he and DeWine will not allow hate, violence and destruction to be part of the city.

“Gov. DeWine stand together on this. This is not a Democrat or Republican concern. 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,” Ginther said.

Asked if he expects protests in other cities, DeWine did not discuss specifics but said he has been communicating with mayors across Ohio and the National Guard can be deployed to other cities as needed.

There is no known threat of violence in Cincinnati, but CPD Lt. Steve Saunders said the department is monitoring the situation closely.

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