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Governor calls out Ohio National Guard amid protests

A woman raises her fist in defiance near the Ohio Statehouse as several hundred people gather to protest over the death of George Floyd Friday, May 29, 2020, ion Columbus, Ohio. Floyd died in police custody Monday in Minneapolis. (Doral Chenoweth/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)

COLUMBUS (AP) — The governor of Ohio said he was calling out the Ohio National Guard and also asking the highway patrol to help enforce laws in Columbus as the mayor of that city and Cleveland both announced 10 p.m. curfews following damage to businesses amid protests over the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd.

Gov. Mike DeWine said the vast majority of protesters wanted “simply to be heard” and focus attention on the death of Floyd, a black man who died after a white officer pressed a knee into his neck, and other injustices.

“But the voices calling for justice, the voices calling for change, are sadly being drowned out by a smaller group of violent individuals … (who) threaten the safety of our citizens, of the community,” the Republican governor said. “Acts of violence cannot, and will not, be tolerated. This violence must stop.”

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said he believed racism “is a public health and safety crisis” and he wanted to see a more equitable city, but “we are now at a point that we can no longer tell who is protesting for change and an end to racism and who has only chaos and destruction in mind.”

Ginther said more than 100 public and private properties had been damaged and at least 10 robbed of goods, five police officers were injured by thrown bricks or rocks and police vehicles had been set afire.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that U.S. Rep Joyce Beatty, Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce and Shannon Hardin, president of the Columbus City Council, were among those pepper-sprayed at a protest Saturday morning.

Hardin said in a message posted on Twitter “We are all OK, and we want to encourage folks, both police and protestors, to stay calm.” Police did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Earlier, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said 50 businesses were damaged overnight and 11 people arrested, with more arrests to come as suspects are identified. He said the 10 p.m. curfew Saturday and Sunday for downtown and Over-The-Rhine areas will allow police to more easily arrest the few who might commit criminal acts.

Chief Eliot Isaac of the city police department said 200 to 250 people earlier gathered and marched, at one point going onto Interstate 75, which was shut down for 20 minutes. “I understood their anger; definitely share that same anger with them,” he said.

Later, however, some turned to “violent and destructive” behavior in the downtown and Over-the-Rhine area, damaging and stealing from businesses and throwing rocks and bottles at police, who deployed pepper ball irritants and gas, Isaac said. Two officers sustained minor injuries, he said.

“I believe that everyone in that crowd last night was not from Cincinnati,” Isaac said. “This lawless behavior cannot continue. … We will not allow it.”

The Enquirer said it was the most significant unrest in the city since protests and violence following the 2001 police shooting of an unarmed black man in Over-the-Rhine, which led to days of unrest, a federal investigation and changes in the police department.

Floyd died Monday after the officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.

In Dayton, police said Saturday in a Twitter post that rocks and bottles were thrown at officers during a protest Saturday, and one officer was injured. “We did deploy chemical munitions when the situation became violent,:” police said.

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