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Protesters gathered outside heavily guarded Ohio Statehouse Sunday

Posted at 1:04 PM, Jan 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-17 21:07:59-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An armed protest outside a heavily guarded Ohio Statehouse came to an end after more than three hours with no incidents on Sunday.

The group of President Trump supporters assembled at the statehouse to oppose the nation's certified election results ahead of Tuesday's inauguration for president-elect Joe Biden.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and law enforcement officials said they weren't initially certain how large a crowd the protests could attract, but a spokesperson with the Ohio State Highway Patrol said law enforcement on duty were prepared for crowds as small as one person, or as large as thousands.

Crowd turnout remained in flux between dozens to one hundred people at the most throughout the day and included a variety of groups, some in support of President Donald Trump, some arguing against both political parties and counter-protesters supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. A few counter-protesters also carried signs in support of President-elect Joe Biden.

Although many protesters were armed and there were small clashes with counter-protesters, no violence occurred. Police have not announced any arrests associated with the event so far, or anyone injured during the protests, which remained peaceful.

Ahead of Sunday's demonstration, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine activated hundreds of members of the Ohio National Guard to guard the statehouse after the FBI warned local jurisdictions of armed protests planned across the country.

In addition to the National Guard, the Ohio State Highway Patrol had a significant presence in Columbus over the weekend, alongside the Columbus Police Department. The precautions come after the violent breach of the U.S. capitol on Jan. 6 by armed supporters of President Trump that left multiple people dead. President Trump has alleged election fraud for months without evidence.

DeWine said on Thursday that security at the Ohio Statehouse has always been a priority, but he feels there needs to be a "heightened" sense of security after Trump supporters violently breached the Capitol last week.

“Our First Amendment rights are sacred. We must always, and will always, respect the rights of peaceful protesters. However, I think all Americans were horrified by what we saw just a few days ago in our nation’s Capitol, where a mob attacked the Capitol, where individuals died as a result, and really where the Constitution itself was under attack,” DeWine said.