Columbus police declared an emergency in the downtown area on Saturday, the third day of protests, urging people to avoid the area. Mayor Andrew Ginther said in a post on Twitter that the emergency was declared “to manage protests near the Statehouse.”
“We are asking residents to avoid the area,” he said. “Safety of everyone — protesters and police — is paramount. We’re calling for everyone to remain calm.”
Police late Friday reported five arrests and two officers injured by thrown rocks and bricks. Police reported windows broken and people “setting off fireworks and inducing panic.”
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.
In Cincinnati, Mayor John Cranley announced a 10 p.m. curfew Saturday and Sunday in areas of the city following damage to businesses amid protests over the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white officer pressed a knee into his neck.
Cranley said hundreds of people had demonstrated peacefully, with no major issues before 11 p.m., but those who engaged in criminal activity ”were not part of the protest.” Eleven people were arrested and more arrests will come as suspects are identified, he said.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that as many protesters began to disperse Friday night, other groups began to break windows and steal from stores. Some windows at the county justice center were broken and some restaurants and shops were broken into. About 50 businesses reported damage, officials said.
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.”
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.
In Cleveland, thousands marched from the Free Stamp to the Justice Center downtown to protest Floyd’s death.
About 3:15 p.m., protestors threw rocks and water bottles at the doors of the Justice Center. Some people spraypainted the side of the building with “BLM!” and “Pig!” Inmates inside the jail pounded on the walls.
Police arrived in tactical gear with shields and deployed tear gas, as protestors coughed inside their masks. Police then threw smoke canisters.
Earlier, protestors wore masks and held signs, including “Black Lives Matter,” “I won’t stand idly by” and “White Violence = State Violence.” Several people are wearing “I can’t breathe!” T-shirts, a reference to Floyd’s words while a police officer held his knee to Floyd’s neck. Protestors also made references to Tamir Rice.
“No justice, no peace!” protestors earlier chanted as the rally grew to encompass closed Lakeside Avenue. They yelled, “I can’t breathe!” and “We want peace, not police!” and “Black Lives Matter!”
Protests in front of the police station in downtown Akron and in Mansfield are also happened Saturday.