Patrol, guard to protect Ohio Statehouse, governor says

State officials are bracing for protesters at the Ohio Statehouse this weekend and on Inauguration Day after the attack on the U.S. Capitol last week.

Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday said: “We’ll have a very significant presence there of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, as well as the (Ohio National) Guard. We are going to close the Statehouse on Inauguration Day.”

When asked if the building would be closed Jan. 17 through Jan. 20, DeWine said that is being discussed with legislative leaders and an announcement is expected this afternoon.

The state patrol is responsible for protecting the Statehouse and its grounds; the Columbus Police Department is responsible for the sidewalks and streets surrounding it.

DeWine this week announced he would activate 580 soldiers and airmen in the Ohio National Guard to help protect the Statehouse and Ohio cities and 200 members of the Guard to assist in Washington, D.C.

The scope and duration of the deployment to the nation’s capital will be determined by the U.S. Secret Service, the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating, planning and implementing security for the presidential inauguration, according to Stephanie Beougher, Ohio National Guard spokeswoman.

At the inauguration, Ohio guard members will assist with communications and food service.

“Since George Washington’s inauguration in 1789, the National Guard has supported the peaceful transition of power and ensured the safety and well-being of our fellow Americans,” Beougher said.

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The FBI warned of possible armed protests in all 50 state capitals and in Washington, beginning late this week and running through Inauguration Day.

Credit: Laura Bischoff

Credit: Laura Bischoff

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The Statehouse was damaged in May when racial justice protests turned violent. More than two dozen windows were damaged.

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Jane Timken discouraged any violent protests.

“The violence and destruction that took place in the halls of the Capitol building last week was simply un-American ... The violence must stop,” Timken said in a statement. “Fundamental to our democracy is the peaceful transition of power. I am urging all Ohioans no matter what side of the aisle you are on — violence is not and is never the answer.”

The Ohio National Guard also warned this week against false rumors circulating on social media that Guard units would be deployed across the U.S. and a nationwide, two-week mandatory quarantine would be announced soon. The false rumors appear to be listed in a letter attributed to the National Guard.

“Please be aware that it is FALSE and FAKE,” the Ohio National Guard said on Twitter.

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