Dewine

Gov. Mike DeWine calls out the National Guard and puts it on its highest alert. | Screenshot

Gov. Mike DeWine will close the Ohio Statehouse and downtown Columbus state offices Jan. 17 to Jan. 20 in anticipation of violent protests in and around Columbus.

He also called out the National Guard to back up the Ohio State Highway Patrol and to respond wherever needed in Ohio.

In addition, he said he was sending an additional 500 Ohio National Guardsmen to Washington, D.C., ahead of the inauguration Jan. 20.

“We have unique capabilities,” he said of the Ohio National Guard. “We have special personnel, special equipment that has been specifically requested by the federal government.”

DeWine spoke at a press conference with Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan and Major General John Harris of the National Guard and Col. Richard Fambro, superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

"Both will be available for anyplace else where trouble might arise," DeWine said, referring to the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the National Guard.

"The Statehouse will be closed," DeWine said. "I have a proclamation to sign that officially mobilizes the guard to be in Columbus and to be in anywhere else (needed). ... We have a strong relationship with our mayors."'

Ginther called the violence in Washington, D.C., vile.

“Our nation is facing a great struggle right now,” Ginther said. “Those threats are being brought to our doorstep right here in Columbus.” 

In response to a question about domestic terrorism, DeWine said Americans saw in the footage of the violence at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 what he had known existed already.

Columbus City Hall at 90 W. Broad St., will be closed Jan. 19 and Jan. 20, "due to heightened publici safety concerns and the potential threat to government offices." according to a posting in the city's website Jan. 15.

In addition, 77 North Front Street, the Michael B. Coleman Government Center at 111 North Front St., and the Beacon Building at 50 W. Gay St., will close. City employees have been asked to work remotely if possible. 

In addition, all city facilities will be closed Jan. 18 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

"We have known that we have domestic terrorists ini the United States," DeWine said. "Domestic terrorists have been a problem in this country and remain a problem in this country."

“We were horrified by what we saw,” DeWine said, reflecting on the violence at the U.S. Capitol. “The sad truth is that there are people in our country who want to turn to peaceful protests into opportunities for violence. These are violent people and their violence will not be tolerated in Ohio.”

Police Chief Thomas Quinlan asked those people who don't have business downtown to stay away from Columbus. 

"My request would be avoid the area," Quinlan said. He said he uses intelligence prior to responding to protests and goes over rules of engagements. 

As it mobilizes, Harris said the National Guard is trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by receiving rapid tests prior to deployment.

"There is concern about bringing those folks together," Harris said.

Ginther said he hopes protesters will take precautions.

"We encourage them to mask up," Ginther said.

Fambro said troopers have family at home whom they wish to protect and also asked for consideration.

As to the potential for armed protesters, "We're prepared to do the full spectrum of operations ... We're equipped." Harris said, adding that guardsmen are prepared to control crowds.

"If they're engaged in provocative behaviors," Quinlan said, "then they should expect to encounter law enforcement."

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