COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– Ohio National Guard General John Harris spoke during Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s news conference on coronavirus on Tuesday. He provided an update on the guard’s activities since being activated following weekend protests in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
Harris emphasized the Ohio National Guard is supporting police at the requests of the mayors in Cleveland and Columbus, and is not taking over operations from local authorities. He said they are specially-trained for this kind of mission: to assist local law enforcement, to protect life and to protect property.
“A key principal of the execution of their duties is what we call graduate response. We do nothing, except use minimum force necessary to complete the mission. We have a wide array of equipment, a wide assortment of non-lethal systems that allow us to do that,” Harris said.
“But most importantly we conduct our mission with dignity and respect, regardless of who the people are. If we have to protect a protester whose life is in jeopardy, we will do that. If we have to protect a rioter whose life is in jeopardy, it is our responsibility to do that.”
Harris also said 100 members of the Ohio National Guard were sent to Washington D.C. at the request of the U.S. Secretary of Defense Tuesday morning. They will provide security at the White House, critical monuments and businesses, Harris said.
DeWine said mayors reported to him that the vast majority of protesters are peaceful and want to talk about important issues.
“Protesters who are expressing outrage, that protesting and that demonstrating that is certainly understandable and it’s appropriate,” DeWine said.
Both Harris and DeWine stated members of the Ohio National Guard are our family, friends and neighbors.