Last May, like you I watched horrified as what began as a peaceful protest in downtown Columbus quickly escalated into a full-scale riot. That riot then spread to Ohio’s historic Statehouse where thugs broke 28 windows, burned American flags, and ultimately caused over $158,000 in damages to the people’s house.
The damage to downtown Columbus businesses was even worse. According to WBNS TV, rioters broke the windows of numerous storefronts and looted a local convenience store. Store owners spent weeks cleaning and repairing the mess.
The cost to taxpayers was also significant. According to the City of Columbus, cleanup costs totaled nearly $150,000. Meanwhile, the Columbus police stated that they spent approximately $2.7 million in overtime connected to these protests.
Enough is enough. It is long past time to begin restoring law and order in Ohio. That is why I am happy to endorse passage of Ohio House Bill 109 (HB 109) sponsored by Butler County State Representative Sara Carruthers and Hamilton County State Representative Cindy Abrams.
According to the sponsors, HB 109 would do the following:
- Increases the penalty for rioting and create the offenses of riot assault and riot vandalism.
- Increase the penalty for disorderly conduct when the offender hinders the movement of people if the violation occurs during a riot or illegal protest.
- Expand Ohio’s corrupt activity laws to encompass those who organize people to commit a riot or provide material support or resources for those individuals.
- Supports law enforcement and our first responders by creating the offense of bias motivated intimidation which prohibits a person from harming a person or property based on the victim’s status as a first responder.
- Gives peace officers who suffer harm due to persons committing a riot offense, filing a false complaint or an abridgment of the officer’s civil rights a cause of action against those responsible, including any organization that provided material support or resources.
Democrat elected officials, along with some liberal Republicans, have coddled these criminals for too long. Peaceful protest is always welcome in a free society. But those who smash storefront windows, throw bricks, and set things on fire should be punished and punished severely.
Jim Renacci is a business owner that operated 60 businesses, created 1,500 new jobs, and employed over 3,000 people across Ohio. He served four terms in the U.S. Congress and was the 2018 Republican Nominee for the U.S. Senate from Ohio. For more information, please visit www.jimrenacci.com .