Columbus and Franklin County officials are encouraging residents to avoid the downtown area this weekend and through President-Elect Joe Biden's inauguration amid increased chatter about armed protests near the Ohio Statehouse.
Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther today announced the closure of a number of city buildings, including City Hall on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"What we’re facing in the coming days is not a Democrat or Republican or Independent concern," Mayor Ginther said. "It’s not a Black or White concern. It’s an American concern."
Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce encouraged residents to find peaceful ways to engage in their neighborhoods and think about the legacy of a man who dedicated his life to civil rights.
"Martin Luther King Jr. asked us to serve our communities with a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love," Boyce said. "Fortunately, I believe that grace and love are things that we have plenty of here in Franklin County. This weekend is a great time to show our commitment to that cause and that legacy that we honor in Martin Luther King Jr."
Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin echoed a similar sentiment.
"Stay home and stay away from the foolishness," Hardin continued. "Let us do something in our neighborhood in a safe, socially-distant manner. Talk to our relatives. Spend time with our kids. Look towards the future rather than a racist and hateful past. The storming of the Capitol was an act of terrorism. They want to change who we are. They want us to turn against one another because of our skin color or because we pray differently or because we love differently or because we are part of a different political party or because we come from rural or urban areas. We won't buy into that. It's not who we are."
Governor Mike DeWine has activated more than 1,000 Ohio National Guard soldiers to head to Washington in preparations for anticipated armed protests there. DeWine says the request came from the U.S. National Guard Bureau last night. The governor previously authorized more than 700 Guard members for service in Washington. The Statehouse and all state buildings in downtown Columbus will be closed Sunday through Wednesday.