Some Ohio leaders are expressing anger over damage at the Ohio Statehouse after protests in downtown Columbus – with one even suggesting the state consider a kind of secession from the capital city.
Protestors have broken windows and damaged fixtures at the Statehouse, and it took days to remove hand prints on the west columns and stairs left in red paint on June 18. Protestors said that paint was washable, but it was more stubborn to remove than expected.
Gov. Mike DeWine said the Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating the vandalism, saying he would not tolerate such damage.
"When there is vandalism or any illegal act, it should be investigated and we are going to seek prosecution," DeWine said.
Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) went further, saying he’s considered withholding Columbus’ state funding to cover the cost of repairs. This week, he said in an interview with the Ohio Christian Alliance that he wants to turn the area surrounding the Statehouse into "something like the District of Columbia."
“We’re researching it currently," Householder said. "If Columbus isn’t interested in protecting state property we need to consider removing Cap Square from the city.”
There is no excuse that night after night the Ohio Statehouse gets beaten, spray painted & abuses. The Statehouse isn’t only Ohio’s seat of government but it is POST #1 OF THE HIGHWAY PATROL.
Governor, protect the taxpayers property NOW, OSHP have some respect for yourself !!!
— Speaker Larry Householder (@HouseholderOH) June 19, 2020
“I don’t know if that’s possible or not," said Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) on "The Sound of Ideas" Friday.
Obhof said he’s talked to his fellow Republican leader about this.
“I think the more important issue, the underlying issue is that – I think he and I agree – that we need to do more to protect the Statehouse from vandalism," Obhof said.
— Karen Kasler (@karenkasler) May 29, 2020
Obhof said he’s been assured by Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein, a Democrat, that those who’ve committed vandalism will be prosecuted. State troopers are now visible at several points on Statehouse grounds.
Klein criticized Householder's threats of withholding funding, tweeting that "peddling this crap to stoke fear and score political points doesn't get us anywhere, and it certainly doesn't help those who need and deserve our help."