Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says he shares protesters' frustration and anger over the death of another black man at the hands of police.
Watch DeWine discuss the Columbus protests over the death of George Floyd at a Friday news briefing.
"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," DeWine said Friday.
Instead of a COVID-19 briefing, DeWine addressed George Floyd's death in Minneapolis and the protests that followed in Columbus and around the country. Some protesters turned violent, smashing 23 windows at the Ohio Statehouse and on storefronts downtown in the state capital.
The growing strife in his home state and nationally led DeWine to issue a call to unity against racism and police violence and to urge protesters to remain peaceful.
“His death impacts all of us,” the governor said. “We have a responsibility to each other. We have a responsibility, all of us regardless of race, to stand up and say we won’t tolerate conduct like this.
"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."
Floyd was handcuffed and pleading for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck Monday.
DeWine said he did not agree with the portion of a President Donald Trump tweet indicating “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” — commending the Columbus Police Department for handling Thursday’s protest with minimal injuries.
“I think it’s very important that leaders such as myself be a source of peace, stability and work to heal the divisions that we have in this country,” DeWine said.
DeWine called protests "appropriate" but asked protesters to stay peaceful.
"Protests expressing outrage are not only understandable, but they are also appropriate," he said. "We want Ohioans to exercise their First Amendment rights."
In Columbus, a protest began peacefully Thursday night but turned violent early Friday. The crowd of around 400 people entered into a standoff with Columbus police Thursday night, blocking the intersection of key streets in the Ohio capital for hours, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
At the Statehouse, protesters also damaged doors, light poles and flags and dumped several garbage cans, according to the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board. Broken Statehouse windows were boarded up early Friday and workers were placing plywood over undamaged first floor windows as a precaution.
But DeWine added: "I ask my fellow citizens today, as you gather in protest in the coming days throughout Ohio, please do so peacefully. We must not fight violence with more violence."