LIMA — Officers arrested a Los Angeles man protesting during President Barack Obama's visit to Lima on Friday afternoon, while most protesters were seemingly peaceful and innocuous.
One man in an overflow room during President Obama’s speech was arrested for disorderly conduct.
“Stop Obama,” shouted Rives Grogan after he was picked up and escorted outside by Lima Police Department officers. Despite officers and Secret Service men restraining him outside the front of the high school, he still continued to speak slowly and loudly.
Many protesters focused on the death of four Americans during an attack in Libya in September. U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate compound there.
“Make Obama answer the questions. All the lies of Benghazi. Four Americans are dead because of the lies of Benghazi. Abortion, 3,000 babies die everyday because of abortion,” Grogan, 47, of Los Angeles yelled.
Lima Police Department Chief Kevin Martin said officers gave Grogan the chance to calm down, but he didn't.
“He was creating a disturbance inside and was advised several times to calm down. He did not, so he was placed in custody for persistent disorderly conduct,” said Martin, who was one of the officers trying to restrain Grogan.
Martin said aside from the one arrest, things went smoothly for the president’s visit.
An estimated 20 protesters stood parallel to people waiting in line to pass through security gates to the high school. Meanwhile, Paul Weaver walked the parameter of the school with his sign, wearing a neon orange knitted hat, since noon.
“In my opinion, this president has lied in order to gain political advantage in this election, and therefore Libya because of his incompetence. And as a Vietnam-era veteran, I feel that this should be brought to the voters’ attention before the election. He wants to keep it out of sight,” said Weaver, 63, of Wapakoneta.
Standing on the other side of Market Street near the high school, people such as George Snyder, Bonnie Oleksa and Janet Miller held signs questioning the president’s decision about the Benghazi terrorist attacks in September that killed four Americans.
“This is just a kick in the stomach, this Benghazi story,” said Miller, of Toledo, who made the trip south on her own to bring the message out. “It’s criminal. If we don’t know this about our president, and if they know, people just don’t care.”
George Snyder’s poster read, “When the president called the Navy Seals, they killed Osama Bin Laden. But when the Navy Seals called the president, he let them die.”
“I believe it,” said Snyder, of Mansfield.
For Pat Emlinger, who said her stance is nonpartisan, it’s about her children’s futures.
“I’m here because I’ve got kids and grandkids and great-grandkids. And I want my country left intact for them. And the way it's going, it’s not going to be,” said Emlinger, of Lima. “We’re not being told the truth about what happened in Benghazi. And I’ve heard people equate this to Watergate and the Monica Lewinsky thing. But nobody died in those. But Americans died in Benghazi. Americans died begging for help.”
Nevin Cline, 53, of Bluffton, who was in line to see President Obama, became visibly upset after reading some of the protesters' signs, particularly signs that read, “Heroes died, Obama lied.”
“Bush lied, and the heroes died,” Cline said in response. “Now they’re trying to blame the deaths on the heroes — my friends because I’m a veteran — on Obama. He inherited the whole mess. It’s proven that the weapons of mass destruction were a lie... just to get into Iraq.”
Many of the protesters later made their way down Bellefontaine Avenue to be in view of the presidential motorcade that drove by.
Other groups, such as protesters from the anti-abortion group Created Equal, stood near Family Video to be in view. They had a billboard truck with a graphic photo of an aborted fetus.
A People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals representative, Jaclyn Davis, of Reno, Nev., also stood in view of the motorcade on Harding Highway near Interstate 75, wearing an elephant suit, trying to bring awareness to the alleged cruelty of elephants in Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circuses.