COLUMBUS, Ohio — After a small group of protesters, upset over the Stay Safe Ohio order and some businesses remaining closed, gathered in Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton’s neighborhood Saturday, Gov. Mike DeWine took a stand against them for taking it too far.
During Monday’s press conference, DeWine said that while he is a strong advocate for exercising the First Amendment and one’s constitutional right to protest, there is fair game when doing so.
DeWine said protesting against him and his decision is fair game, but what isn’t fair game is to disrespect reporters and photographers.
“You should come after me, don’t go after people who are exercising the first amendment rights, the first amendment rights that we value in this country so very much,” DeWine said. “Reporters and photographers who are doing nothing more than following that First Amendment, informing the public — just remember they’re informing the public about what you think, what you’re saying and what you think is important.”
DeWine said disrespectful protesters who are not observing social distancing with reporters and photographers or act “obnoxious” is “very, very sad.”
I asked this woman to respect my space after she was yelling and spitting in my face. She said i had no right to social distancing in public and continued to follow me. Complaining about my mask (that is meant to protect her and those around me). https://t.co/M7BX888z11— Adrienne Robbins (@ARobbinsTV) May 1, 2020
The governor then spoke on the protests held outside of Acton’s neighborhood over the weekend, saying while she is working hard, he is the one making the decisions and protesters should be focused on him.
“I’m the elected official. I’m the one who ran for office, I’m the one who makes the policy decisions. Members of my cabinet, Dr. Acton included, work exceedingly, exceedingly hard but I set the policy. So when you don’t like the policy, again, you can demonstrate against me, that is certainly fair game,” DeWine said. “But to bother the family of Dr. Acton, I don’t think that’s fair game. I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think it’s necessary to get your point across.”
DeWine said that those who want to protest can do so any day of the week against him and his decisions.
Protesters holding signs, one of which read “Dr. Amy Over-Re-Acton Hairstylists Are Essential” and another that read “Let Freedom Work,” gathered in Acton's neighborhood in Bexley, Ohio Saturday.
Police said the 15 to 20 protesters did not participate in disruptive or criminal activity and no action by law enforcement was necessary.