Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine called for protests to be peaceful and told Ohioans his administration "will do more" to address racism and implicit bias, the day after an estimated 400 protested the killing of George Floyd in downtown Columbus May 28.
Floyd, a handcuffed black man, was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer May 25.
Protesters gathered near North High and Broad streets in Columbus, continuing into the early hours of May 29, media outlets reported.
The protest began as peaceful, with protesters saying slogans such as “no justice, no peace,” “black lives matter,” and “I can’t breathe.”
Some protesters threw objects, as police released pepper spray and pushed back protesters, and tried to get them to disperse. A few protesters threw smoke bombs, media outlets reported.
Local media reported windows and front doors of the Ohio Statehouse were vandalized, as were local businesses and bus stops. Multiple protesters were arrested.
Protests, including one in Minneapolis where a police station precinct was burned, occurred across the country the night of May 28 in response to Floyd’s death, and more protests are anticipated.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine addressed the Columbus protest at a press conference May 29. He said the protest was not anticipated and he was notified of it as it was going on the evening of May 28.
"All of us have an obligation to speak out against injustice and to speak out against racism," he said, adding he regretted not offering such remarks at the previous day's press conference.
He said he and his wife, Fran, who was with him at the May 29 press conference, "could not comprehend" what African-American families are going through. He also addressed implicit bias, and the importance of implicit bias training for police officers.
"My commitment today to the citizens of Ohio is that we will do more," DeWine said.
"(Floyd's) death impacts all of us," he said. "We have a responsibility, regardless of race, to speak out, stand up and say we will not tolerate conduct like this."
He asked Ohioans as they protest in the coming days, "regardless of the issue, please do so peacefully. We must not fight violence with more violence."
Tweeting about the protests in Minneapolis, President Donald Trump tweeted, "....These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!"
When asked by a reporter if he agreed with Trump's comments, DeWine said "Not the last sentence at all." DeWine said leaders should be a source of peace and stability, and work to heal divisions in the country including racism and related health care disparities.
DeWine said he did not have an estimate of cost of damages to the city, but expected it to come out in the next day or so.
Floyd was a 46-year-old black man who died after being handcuffed and pressed to the ground on his neck by a Minneapolis Police Department officer’s knee, which was recorded and posted on social media. Floyd pleaded, “I can’t breathe,” as the officer, Derek Chauvin, continued to press his knee into Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Chauvin was fired along with officers Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng.
Mayor Jacob Frey, the second Jewish mayor in Minneapolis history, called on prosecutors to file charges against Chauvin.
Chauvin was arrested by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension May 29 and charged with third-degree murder.
In response to the protests, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish also released a statement.
“I fully support the peaceful expression of protest over Floyd’s untimely and terrible death," Budish's statement read. "African Americans across our country have suffered institutionalized racism long enough. It is crucial to remember that, come this November, we all have the opportunity to express our desire for change by voting in local, state and federal elections.”
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther tweeted, “I understand why some residents are angry and taking to the streets. I have said many times that racism exists across the country, state and right here in Columbus. We are committed to addressing racism wherever we see it.
“I respect peaceful protests and ask residents to remain peaceful in their actions tonight and every night.”
I respect peaceful protests and ask residents to remain peaceful in their actions tonight and every night.— Mayor Andrew Ginther (@MayorGinther) May 29, 2020
The Franklin County Commissioners also released a statement emphasizing the importance of peaceful protest and addressing inequality, and calling on both protesters and police to exercise restraint.
“Peaceful protest has a long and important history in our country, and we will not condemn it,” the statement read. “We do call on both the protesters and the police to exercise restraint. The safety of all of our community members must be our highest priority. Addressing the systemic inequities that have led us to this point must be our ultimate objective.”