Columbus Braced For Threatened "Armed March" On Capitol
Ohio Governor Mike Dewine says the Statehouse will be closed Sunday through Wednesday in anticipation of a threatened "armed march" on state capitols.
State workers in other buildings are asked to work from home. And he has authorized an additional 500 Ohio National Guard soldiers to be sent to the Capitol this weekend ahead of Wednesday's inauguration.
"We have unique capabilities; we have special personnel and special equipment that has been specifically requested by the federal government for us to deploy to Washington, and we have done so" DeWine said.
Among those units being requested are communications, security, and a highly trained homeland response force, according to Ohio National Guard Major General John Harris.
Of the over 1,000 Guard soliders called up, around 700 will be deployed to Washington. Many of the rest will join a unified force at the Statehouse with the Ohio Highway Patrol and Columbus Division of Police. Police Chief Tom Quinlan says officers are clear on directives issued this summer - that chemical agents are not to be used on *peaceful* demonstrators, but can be used on those who threaten violence - and on how to handle demonstrators carrying weapons, which are only allowed on Statehouse grounds with appropriate permits.
"If they're legally compliant with law and the open carry or concealed carry laws, then they'll have no interaction with law enforcement. If they're engaged in provocative behaviors that rise to the level of illegal activities, then they should expect to encounter law enforcement appropriately" Quinlan said.
Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther says there's also a role for the average resident.
"What hate groups want is confrontation, to give them a platform and amplify their message. Let's not give it to them. Avoid planned protests this weekend and leading up to the inagauration. Be aware of your surroundings and your situation. Leave if you do not feel safe. Seek help if you see something suspicious" Ginther said.
At a joint press conference this morning Ginther, Quinlan, Highway Patrol Colonel Richard Fambro and National Guard Major General John Harris declined to discuss specific intelligence recieved, or the numbers of law enforcement that will be deployed.