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Ohio governor: Occupation of Capitol an ‘embarrassment’

COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday called the occupation of the U.S. Capitol an “embarrassment” that runs counter to actions in a nation of laws. He was joined by several other state leaders in condemning the violence.

DeWine, a Republican, said the final step in the constitutional process of electing a president was disrupted by what he called “a violent mob.”

“This is an embarrassment to our country,” said DeWine, who previously served in Washington as both a U.S. representative and U.S. senator.

“As a nation of laws, this is simply not acceptable. Lawlessness is not acceptable,” DeWine said. “This is an affront to our Constitution and everything we hold dear.”

DeWine said peaceful demonstrations are a First Amendment exercise, but stopping the constitutional process of electing a president is not. He said President Donald Trump should call for the demonstrators to leave the Capitol.

Trump, in a video message, urged supporters to “go home” but also kept up false attacks about the presidential election.

In a tweet, Ohio’s Republican U.S. Senator, Rob Portman, called on Trump to “condemn this unacceptable vandalism and violence.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Marietta) stated, “I swore an oath to protect the Constitution and the rule of law. I take that oath seriously. Whether it was the violent thugs who fought with police and stormed the U. S. Capitol building today or the violent thugs of Antifa and BLM who’ve been assaulting police and attacking government buildings for the last six months, this lawlessness is wrong and should be universally condemned. We’re all Americans, and we’re better than this. I thank all the men and women of the U.S. Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies who brought help for their service.”

Republican Attorney General Dave Yost, the state’s top law enforcement official, said it was just as important to call for the prosecution of those involved in Wednesday’s occupation as for those who stormed the federal courthouse in Portland last year during protests over racial injustice and police brutality.

“The color of your skin or the slogan upon your banner must not change what is and is not acceptable,” said Yost.

“The violence and flagrant disregard of the law at the U.S. Capitol is un-American,” Ohio’s elections chief, GOP Secretary of State Frank LaRose, said in a tweet. “It goes against our values as a nation. There’s no excuse for it. None.”

Any Ohio protester who traveled to Washington with the intent of “to commit such crimes” will be prosecuted, said U.S. Attorney David DeVillers, a Trump appointee whose jurisdiction includes Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and all of southern Ohio.

Members of Ohio’s congressional delegation universally condemned Wednesday’s violence, though with varying degrees of anger. GOP U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, who issued his formal protest over the election of President-elect Joe Biden minutes before protesters breeched the Capitol, tweeted simply: “Stop the Violence. Support Capitol Police.”

Jordan, a strong Trump ally, is expected to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump next week.

U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, a Cleveland Democrat who has been appointed Biden’s secretary of housing and urban development: “This is a day that will live in infamy. The very people who believe they are protecting our democracy have succeeded in destroying it.”

Protesters for and against Trump’s unfounded attack on the 2020 election results also clashed outside the Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus. About 200 people in separate pro-Trump and Proud Boys groups gathered to oppose the seating of President-elect Joe Biden.

Video footage showed multiple people involved in a fight in the street, punching and hitting at least one person on the ground. Another violent altercation involving multiple people broke out later in the afternoon on the statehouse grounds, until law enforcement officers moved to separate the groups.

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Associated Press writers Julie Carr Smyth and Farnoush Amiri in Columbus and Dan Sewell in Cincinnati contributed to this report. Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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