“Armed March” On Ohio Statehouse Features Conspiracy Theories And Guns, But Stays Peaceful

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — The planned “armed march” that was expected in all 50 state capitals and brought out heavy security resulted in just a few dozen protestors at the Ohio Statehouse.

People describing themselves as the Ohio Boogaloo, along with supporters of Donald Trump and Joe Biden, shared space on the Statehouse grounds, mostly peacefully. Many showed up armed but said they were there for free speech and unity.

There were a handful of counterprotestors, but the event didn’t become violent, unlike a protest on January 6, as several dozen mostly pro-Trump supporters and far-right Proud Boys clashed with a small group of counterprotestors. That event was intended to coincide with the certification of President-Elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win, which was preceded by an deadly insurrection at the US Capitol by people loyal to Trump.

At Sunday’s event in Columbus, a few dozen people were met by at least as many state troopers and Ohio National Guard members, who stood behind bike-rack style fencing that encircled the Statehouse and most of its Civil War-era movements. The Holocaust Memorial was not surrounded by fencing, but a group of state troopers were protecting it.

Shio State Troopers and National Guard stand watch at the Ohio Statehouse on Jan. 17 during the planned "armed protest," which remained peaceful.
Shio State Troopers and National Guard stand watch at the Ohio Statehouse on Jan. 17 during the planned “armed protest,” which remained peaceful. [Chris Day | WOUB]
Many of those who showed up were heavily armed with firearms, and some also brought baseball bats. An argument between two demonstrators over bullhorns went on for more than an hour, featuring a variety of widely-debunked conspiracy theories.

After reports of armed marches on all 50 state capitals was planned for Sunday, and that Columbus was considered a particular target, security forces had taken this seriously.

Beyond the fencing, Ohio State Highway Patrol officers were at all doors and around the monuments. Gov. Mike DeWine had authorized 580 personnel to be deployed to the Statehouse or communities wanting help with expected protests. They had parked armored vehicles at entrances to the underground parking garage and on sidewalks, and soldiers were patrolling the grounds during the event.

The Ohio Statehouse and state buildings in downtown are closed through Inauguration Day on Wednesday.