Supporters and opponents of President Trump each held rallies at the Statehouse on Saturday.
Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles was there.
Supporters of Trump gathered in front of the steps to the west side of the Ohio Statehouse. They were praying, marching and singing. And some were visibly armed. Dan Stevenson of Lima Ohio was part of a group known as the West Ohio Minutemen.
“We were asked to come here by the organizers of the Trump event to run security.”
Stevenson said he supports Trump’s policies.
“Somebody who is asking immigrants to come into our country so they can leech off of our system and having good American citizens pay for their houses or food or stuff like that. We don’t even take care of our veterans. We don’t even take care of good American citizens who fought for our rights to be here. But they want to let Muslims and immigrants come over here. And we aren’t talking women and children. We are talking middle aged fighting Muslims that’s immigrating over here and trying to get sanctionary [sic].”
Another armed man, who would only identify himself as Wolf, stood near the opponents. He was part of a group known as Ohio Cowboys Militia. As he carried his semiautomatic gun, and as opponents loudly cheered and sang in the background, he explained he is there, exercising the second amendment, so that everyone there can exercise their first amendment.
“We always seek peace. We always protect the ballot box. We protect the individual who has something to say, even if I disagree with them. I’m going to protect them.”
As is often the case, the Trump event drew counter-protestors. Opponents were mainly kept about a soccer field’s length away on the sidewalk. Ohio Highway Patrol officers stood between both groups. Police officers on horses were situated across the street from the Statehouse. And officers on bicycles rode along with the Trump supporters as they marched around the Statehouse. Kourtney Hewett from Lancaster Ohio said she was there for peaceful demonstration.
“We are here united. You can see others here with their militia gear. We are here to spread love.”
Another protestor, April Wheeler of Dublin, said she doesn’t like Trump’s policies and she thinks he’s trying to enact them too quickly.
“Why are we not working on tax reform and why are we just rushing everything through? Everybody agrees we need immigration reform. Everybody agrees with that. Why are just banning Muslims and saying horrible things? Why are we not doing it right?”
The two sides protested for a couple of hours then left without violence.