A pugilistic day of political demonstrations that included two brawls between far-right demonstrators insisting the presidential election was stolen and Black Lives Matter activists ended with no arrests Wednesday.
At least two rounds of fisticuffed rumbles with an array of participants broke out at different points through the afternoon along with some more minor spats.
The Proud Boys, a radical conservative group with white nationalist ties known for violent confrontations with liberal demonstrators, tussled with BLM activists after hours of vitriolic name calling and antagonizing between the two.
Among the Proud Boys and those alongside them, firearms were everywhere. People were carrying assault style rifles, shotguns and pistols. None were seen used or brandished. One man carried a telescoping baton.
At least two people standing with BLM activists carried pistols, and one man carried a baseball bat, none of which were seen in use during the fights.
Members of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which protects the Capitol building and campus, intervened at times to break up the physical altercations and try to keep the two groups separate or at least in peace.
OSHP Staff Lt. Craig Cvetan said Thursday the primary function of the officers on the scene were to make sure everybody stays safe, not necessarily make arrests.
“As you make arrests and try to start apprehending individuals, that takes away those trooper’s ability to separate those groups,” he said.
He said the officers are well aware of the arsenal of weapons around the protest.
“Ohio is an open-carry state,” he said. “Certainly, we prefer for people not to have weapons on the Statehouse grounds. It makes it easier for us.”
The first rumble broke out around 12:40 p.m. It was captured in video via a Statehouse News Bureau reporter.
The Columbus Police Department assisted in breaking up the fights. Repeated calls to the department seeking information on arrests or lack thereof were sent to a Public Information Officer who did not answer calls and could not accept voicemails.
A separate fight with at least about 10 people engaged broke out on the Capitol lawn at roughly 3 p.m. OSHP officers broke things up and separated the two groups.
Shortly thereafter, the Proud Boys groups left on buses, after which the situation quickly calmed down.
Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., a mob of insurrectionists were in the process of invading the U.S. Capitol and wreaking havoc inside. One woman was reportedly shot, and three more died due to unspecified medical emergencies.
Gov. Mike DeWine briefly mentioned the protests at the Ohio Capitol speaking to reporters Thursday. He acknowledged there’s no guarantee that Ohio’s statehouse is safe from a similar invasion. He made no mention of either the fights or the firearms that were present through the event.
This story shared for republication by, and with permission from, the Ohio Capital Journal, an independent, nonprofit news organization. For more information go to www.ohiocapitaljournal.com
Jake Zuckerman is a statehouse reporter. He spent three years chronicling the West Virginia Legislature for The Charleston Gazette-Mail after covering cops and courts for The Northern Virginia Daily.