Protesters returned to the Bexley neighborhood of Dr. Amy Acton for a third time, driving up and down the street with upside down American flags as well as protesting on foot in front of her house at about 3 p.m. May 8.
Katie Forbes, a freelance photographer, told the CJN Acton’s neighbors decorated Acton’s lawn with balloons the day before to show their appreciation for her work to protect the lives of Ohioans, and the display was descecrated by that afternoon. The balloon display originally read, “We love you.”
Forbes said there were about 20 protesters and about a dozen troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol as well as officers from the Bexley and Columbus police departments.
One car went through the neighborhood with white lettering that said, “Quit Acton Viruses Need a Host.”
Protests previously took place at Acton’s home on May 2 and May 4. At the May 2 protest, two men openly carried guns.
Forbes said neighbors told her on May 8 that protesters have been walking through the neighborhood at night and driving through as well, which neighbors also spoke about during a May 6 special Bexley City Council meeting called to address the protests at Acton’s home.
At least one protester returned to Acton’s house on both May 4 and May 8 with a sign that read “Jewish Leaders John 7:1.” That passage of the Christian Scriptures is translated by the New Living Translation as “After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death.”
Forbes said the man appeared to be operating solo.
The Anti-Defamation League has identified that protester as Shawn Kelly Jones, according to James Pasch, Cleveland regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.
“He’s an anti-Semitic activist and conspiracy theorist who’s been using these far-right rallies and protests as an opportunity to share his anti-Semitic viewpoints,” Pasch told the CJN. “This is not the first rally he has been at.”
Pasch said Jones also protested at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., in February and at an Open Ohio rally in April.
Forbes said “no parking signs’ can now be found on Acton’s street. Protesters parked around the block and walked in groups of five to seven people.
“It didn’t seem necessarily synchronized,” said Forbes, adding the entire group then congregated.
“I was talking with one neighbor who has young kids,” Forbes said. “She said … she feels like she can’t take long walks. It’s really quite intimidating because the sidewalks are getting so full.”
In addition to signs calling to open Ohio and to end Acton’s policies regarding COVID-19, some protesters carried anti-vaccine signs and anti-abortion signs.
“It seems to me that she is just becoming a beacon of everyone’s frustration at this point,” Forbes said. “My understanding is that people had initially gone to the department of health to protest. There had been one that was planned, but then they realized that DeWine was not going to be hosting a news conference that day, so … then they took a turn to Dr. Acton’s house.”
Neighbors stayed inside their houses this time. Some had signs that read, “Dr. Amy Acton Fan Club.’
Previously, some stood on the sidewalk or sat on Acton’s lawn.
At the May 6 meeting, Bexley Police Chief Larry Rinehart said police would do their best to preserve the rights of protesters, while protecting Acton and her neighbors.
Rinehart said he respects the right of neighbors to counterprotest although it may lead to an unintended consequence.
“That feeds the protesters,” he said at the May 6 meeting. “They want TV cameras. ... We’re prepared to take this thing wherever it needs to go, but we will do everything we need to do to keep it from going big, and to keep it from being a national televised event.”