COLUMBUS — House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, threatened to cut state funding to the city of Columbus after “protesters” vandalized the Ohio Statehouse.
Protesters have gathered in cities nationwide in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed man who died in police custody in Minneapolis. Demonstrations have, at times, turned violent with participants vandalizing landmarks.
According to reports, protesters last week defaced the Ohio Statehouse with red handprints on the building, and Householder wants the cost to clean up the vandalism to come from the city’s budget.
“I will be pushing to have deducted from City of Columbus’ Local Government Funds,” Mr. Householder said in a Facebook post. “State taxpayers should not have to pay if the City won’t let their police protect. If Columbus has the honor of being our Capital City than they have the responsibility to protect taxpayers’ assets.”
In a tweet, he said there “is no excuse that night after night the Ohio Statehouse gets beaten, spray painted” and abused.
Householder accused the mayor of ordering police to stand down and placate “protectors.” Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther disputed the assertion.
“Facts are important. The city has never called for our officers to ‘stand down,’” the mayor said on Twitter. “This has been reported repeatedly by news organizations throughout Columbus.
“It is our goal to protect the public’s right to peacefully protest, but that does not condone acts of vandalism,” he added.
Gov. Mike DeWine said he spoke with Ohio State Highway Patrol Col. Richard Fambro about security at the Ohio Statehouse.
“I shared with him my anger and disgust at the vandalism that occurred at the Ohio Statehouse,” Gov. DeWine said.
“I support the right to peacefully protest. However, defacing, damaging, and vandalizing our state capitol and its grounds are wrong, and such actions are criminal,” Gov. DeWine added. “The Ohio State Highway Patrol is conducting a criminal investigation into [these] acts, and they will send their findings to the appropriate authorities for potential prosecution.”
Last week, officials at Columbus State Community College said they are removing statues of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus from public spaces.