Ohio’s GOP senator says military shouldn’t be into his state

By Dan Sewell and John Seewer - Associated Press

CINCINNATI (AP) — Ohio’s Republican senator said Tuesday the US military shouldn’t be sent into his home state.

“That should be a local decision,” said Rob Portman, who lives in the Cincinnati area. “It should be what the mayors and governors want … I don’t see that happening right now. … The National Guard certainly in Ohio is capable of handling the situation.”

GOP President Donald Trump is vowing to send the military into states to quell protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody if state authorities don’t restore order.

Questioned sharply by Ohio reporters about the president’s recent actions and rhetoric, Portman said he agrees with Trump on such positions as expediting the federal probe of the latest death of a black person in police custody and on the need to stop violence.

He’d like to hear less-bellicose language from the White House.

“But I do believe he can and should do more … you know, words matter. And we need to be sure we’re not inflaming this situation,” Portman said. “This is a time for healing, it’s a time to calm things down so we can have a dialogue. And I think that’s what’s needed right now.”

Trump carried Ohio in 2016 by a surprising 8-percentage-point margin, after losing the GOP primary to then-Gov. John Kasich.

Earlier Tuesday, police in Ohio cities said dozens more people were arrested. Hundreds gathered for more demonstrating in Columbus.

Protests began peacefully in Columbus on Monday night, with videos showing hundreds of protesters lying flat on the ground in front of the Ohio Statehouse, chanting Floyd’s last words,“I can’t breathe.”

As the demonstrations unraveled into the night, Columbus police officers were seen in social media videos pepper spraying protesters and even members of the press.

Over the weekend, police there were criticized for hiding their badge numbers.

City council member Rob Dorans tweeted Tuesday that Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan promised him that going forward, officers’ badge numbers would be visible.

“This is (an) important step for accountability and transparency,” Dorans tweeted.

In Cincinnati on Monday evening, one reporter was detained and at least one more was pushed.

Mayor John Cranley apologized for the police detention of a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter, calling it “a big mistake.” He was released without charges.

The Roman Catholic archbishop of Cincinnati plans a special hour of prayer Wednesday afternoon in memory of George Floyd and others who died in similar ways and for a “genuine conversion of the heart” against racial divisions.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the humiliation, indignity, and unequal opportunity experienced by millions of our brothers and sisters simply because of their race or the color of their skin and yet still profess to respect every human life. Opposing racism must therefore be an integral part of our pro-life witness as Catholics,” Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr said Tuesday in a statement.

The service will be at 5:15 p.m. EDT at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral and will be streamed live.

Cleveland, meanwhile, will allow downtown businesses to open beginning Wednesday, but a nighttime curfew will remain through Friday.

Hundreds of storefronts and government buildings were damaged across the state during weekend protests sparked by the May 25 death. Floyd, a black man who was handcuffed, died after a white officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes, even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.

Officials in Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati over the weekend said they believed that out-of-towners were largely responsible for violence. But since then, media outlets reviewed court records and reported that the large majority of those arrested during the protests were local or Ohio residents.

By Dan Sewell and John Seewer

Associated Press