About 30 protesters staged a second protest at the home of Dr. Amy Acton, the director of the Ohio Department of Health, the same day the governor asked people to target him, not his cabinet.
One girl at the protest carried a sign that read “Jewish Leaders John 7:1,” a reference to Christian Scriptures. Specifically, the New Living Translation of that verse reads, “After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death.”
Protesters came to the Bexley neighborhood by 5:30 p.m. May 4. A protest, apparently staged by a different group, was held May 2.
Katie R. Forbes, a freelance photographer who lives in Columbus, said people carried red, white and blue “open” banners on one side that had the American flag on the other.
They sang “God Bless America” by Irving Berlin and “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie.
Forbes said this protest was louder than the one on May 2 and included heavier presence from law enforcement, including Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers, who parked in the driveway of Acton’s home.
“They’re more attacking the science today,” she said.
The group of protesters was younger than the previous group, and no one carried weapons. Forbes said that at the May 2 protest a neighbor told her one man carried a gun.
“There were about seven children under 18,” she said. “The rest were adults.”
Clinical escorts, people who escort women to abortion clinics, sat on Acton’s lawn at the May 4 protest, Forbes said, whereas at the previous protest they stood on the tree lawn.
DeWine addressed the protesters and efforts at intimidating Acton and the media at his May 4 press conference. A protester approached WCMH reporter Adrienne Robbins April 30 and berated her for wearing a mask, saying that Robbins was “terrifying the general public.”
“As I shared with all of you, Fran and I grew up in Yellow Springs,” the home of Antioch College, DeWine said. “We grew up in a town (that) values the First Amendment to a great extent. And as we were growing up, demonstrators were in Yellow Springs a lot, and so that is something we’re used to and something that we respect. And so I am fair game.”
He said it is not fair game “to disrespect” or “be obnoxious” to the news media.
“You should come after me,” he said. “Reporters, photographers who are doing nothing more than following that First Amendment. They’re informing the public about what you think, what you say and what you think is important. The best way for you to get that across is the news media’s going to cover you. But to treat them with disrespect, to not observe social distancing with them, to be just obnoxious, I just find that very, very sad.
“Let me say what else is not fair game,” he said. “I’m the elected official. I’m the one who ran for office. I’m the one who makes the policy decisions. Members of my cabinet, Dr. Acton included, work exceedingly, exceedingly hard. But I set the policy. So when you don’t like the policy, again demonstrate against me. That is certainly fair game. But to bother the family of Dr. Acton, I don’t think that’s fair game. I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think it’s necessary to get your point across. You can get your point across very, very easily any day of the week with demonstrations of what I am doing and what policies you disagree with.”
James Pasch, ADL regional director in Cleveland, decried the protest.
"It is outrageous for anybody to target Dr. Acton for her faith or who she is, and anti-Semitism has no place in the state of Ohio," he told the Cleveland Jewish News on May 5. "Dr. Acton should be applauded for her hard work in trying to save the lives of Ohioans and we call out any anti-Semitic or hateful protests."
Lee C. Shapiro, regional director of AJC Cleveland, expressed similar sentiment.
Forbes was raised in Shaker Heights and grew up going to Anisfield Day Camp in Beachwood and Camp Wise in Claridon Township. She also worked for the JCC of Greater Columbus’ day camp.
“It’s just so intimidating,” Forbes said. “This is not the world I want to live in.”