COLUMBUS, Ohio — Governor Mike DeWine addressed the protests across the state in his daily press briefing on Tuesday, saying that Ohio mayors and police chiefs are doing a good job, though there are changes that need to be made.
“They are managing sometimes very tense situations,” he said. “We are here to help them.”
DeWine also highlighted the efforts of the Ohio National Guard and Ohio State Highway Patrol in helping local law enforcement agencies when it comes to the protests.
The protests, going on for the 6th day in Columbus, began on Thursday night locally following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. Over the course of the protests, local police officers have used wooden bullets, tear gas and pepper spray to break up protesters. Protesters vandalized many Downtown buildings, breaking glass with bricks and spraying graffiti in Downtown, the Near East Side, the Short North and near Ohio State campus.
DeWine echoed some of the sentiments Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther communicated in a press conference earlier on Tuesday, saying that mayors in the state have told him that most demonstrators have been peaceful and want to get people’s attention about racism and police violence, but that a small percentage of demonstrators are focused on violence and vandalism.
That small number has “masked, or because of their violence, have drowned out some of the voices of reason and some of the voices of those that are talking about things we all should be talking about,” DeWine said.
“Protesters who are expressing outrage, that protesting, demonstrating is certainly not only understandable but it is very appropriate,” DeWine said.
DeWine laid out what changes he thinks are needed for police departments, including: oversight, accountability and training for officers; transparency; more recruitment of minorities; and more oversight and accountability of employees.
“The vast, vast majority of our law enforcement men and women do a phenomenal job,” DeWine added.
DeWine also acknowledged that there is racism in Ohio and that people should be outraged that it still exists in 2020. He then talked about what he and legislators in the state are doing to confront the issue.
“The essential function of government is to protect the most vulnerable among us, that is the most important job,” DeWine said. “I am governor for all the people of the state of Ohio, it’s my job to serve all the people of the state of Ohio. It is our job to defend the defenseless and it’s my job I believe to bring people together to seek out many options, many ideas and to find solutions to the problems that are holding our state and too many of our citizens back.”
DeWine stated that leaders have an obligation to be a positive voice for change and to create equality.
“The legislature and I have, in a bipartisan way, over the last 16-17 months made a start. We’ve laid a foundation,” he said. “Is it enough? Certainly not, we must go further and that is our challenge and I will be reaching out to members of the general assembly in the coming days to work on these issues.”
He said this time is an opportunity for legislators to do the hard work to make sure all Ohioans have the same opportunities.
“Our goal should always be to recognize that each of us has intrinsic dignity, each of us has intrinsic worth,” DeWine said. “It is our time to act, so I look forward to working with the legislature, I look forward to working with the mayors, the county commissioners around the state of Ohio as we strive to make this a more just society.”
Also during the call, Ohio Adjutant General Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr. said that 100 members of the Ohio National Guard went to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday morning at the request of the Secretary of Defense to help defend the nation’s capital.