Columbus police issue state of emergency order demanding protesters disperse

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**WARNING: This is raw video. You may see or hear profanity/offensive language**

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — Columbus police have declared a state of emergency as protesters have crowded the streets of downtown Columbus again Saturday in effort to speak out against police brutality and the death of George Floyd.

Columbus police announced the state of emergency during the protest. This is the third day in a row police have declared a state of emergency in the downtown area.

The state of emergency, as laid out by Columbus City Code and the Ohio Revised Code, means that anyone who does not leave the area is subject to be removed by authorities regardless of their reason for being there.

Police say violators can face criminal charges.

According to Catherine Ross, a reporter for our sister station WCMH, the crowd began their protest by gathering in front of the Ohio statehouse. Protesters were calling for justice and yelling, “I can’t breathe.”

Local transit in the city has been impacted. COTA announced Saturday that they are rerouting several bus lines due to the protest.

The Lazarus building, located down the street from the statehouse, has smashed windows. Graffiti, overturned planters and other acts of protest can be found throughout downtown Columbus.

Peaceful protests turned violent Thursday night and continued again on Friday, prompting police to declare a state of emergency in the city’s downtown area.

Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck during an arrest Monday. That police officer, Derek Chauvin, was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Since Floyd’s death, rallies, protests and riots have consumed streets across the nation, including in Ohio. Watch the video above for a look at Saturday’s protest.

Ohio’s capitol building and several other businesses in Columbus were damaged Friday night after protests held in Floyd’s name turned violent. Some residents are reporting graffiti on public buildings and windows boarded up where protesters caused damage.

This damage comes after a large group in Columbus marched up and down High and Broad streets Friday night while chanting Floyd’s name.

Police and protesters faced off at Columbus City Hall. At about 9:30 p.m., officers told everyone to leave the area, forming a line and moving down the street to clear people.

Five people were arrested and two officers were injured by protesters who were throwing rocks and bricks at them.

Police said protesters also were setting off fireworks and inducing panic, as well as breaking windows at several businesses.

Reports show the protests moved from downtown to the Short North around 10:45 p.m. City property and private businesses were damaged and vandalized in both areas.

Friday’s gathering appeared smaller than the clash with police that happened Thursday night. That’s when what began as a peaceful protest escalated when people threw objects and smashed windows. Protesters also attempted to storm the Ohio Statehouse. Officers responded with tear gas.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Friday responded to Floyd’s death, saying we all have a responsibility to stand up and say we won’t tolerate this type of conduct.

“I want to make sure that, as Governor of Ohio, I say to every African American man, woman, and child – you are valued and an essential part of this community,” DeWine said. “I acknowledge that I hear the voices of frustration. I receive those words and emotions with empathy and a commitment to seek solutions and justice when it is denied.”

The governor acknowledged that protesting and exercising First Amendment rights is an important part of Ohio’s civic rights, but asked that citizens protest peacefully, stating that violence puts lives at stake.

Protests were also held Friday night in Canton, Ohio and in Cincinnati where a large group of demonstrators shut down a portion of I-75 South.

There is a protest scheduled to take place in downtown Cleveland Saturday afternoon. The “I Can’t Breathe” Justice for George Floyd protest, organized by Black Lives Matter Cleveland, begins at 1:30 p.m. at the Free Stamp on Lakeside Avenue. Police and city officials say they are prepared for the event.

Continuing coverage, here.

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