**WARNING: This video contains language that may be considered vulgar or offensive to some**
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — Armed protesters gathered outside the Ohio statehouse ahead of Governor DeWine’s Friday press briefing, demanding that he reopen the state amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Our sister station WCMH captured footage of the protesters carrying signs, guns and flags. The protesters were encouraging the Governor to reopen Ohio and end the stay-at-home order.
During his Friday afternoon news briefing DeWine announced the order was no longer a stay-at-home order but instead a “Stay Safe Ohio” order.
“Our new order goes into effect today. Not much new there that we haven’t already talked about here. But I do want to indicate the name: Stay Safe Ohio. It’s not a stay at home order. We have reached a new stage. But – it doesn’t mean the virus has gone away,” DeWine explained.
The order is set to expire on May 29.
Ohioans have been protesting outside the capitol building for more than 3 weeks now.
Demonstrators say they are voicing the frustrations of small business owners who are facing economic hardship due to the pandemic.
They have also been protesting the stay-at-home order, arguing that it violated their constitutional rights. Legal experts and state officials previously said that was not the case.
DeWine said the protests were permitted under the state’s stay-at-home order as First Amendment protected speech. He also asked that while the demonstrators practiced their right to protest that they be safe and stay away from each other, citing that “freedom and safety” are not “mutually exclusive.”
Overall, the Governor has respected the protesters’ choices, however, he did publicly condemn one protester for using anti-Semitic language on a sign. He referred to the sign as “vile and disgusting” and said he was “deeply concerned” by that individual’s actions.