Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said a member of the state’s National Guard was suspended and removed from a mission to quell disturbance at racial justice protests in Washington, D.C., after the FBI discovered comments the guardsman had posted online supporting white supremacist ideology prior to his assignment.
“While I fully support everyone’s right to free speech, guardsmen and women are sworn to protect all of us,” DeWine said in a press briefing Friday, “regardless of race, ethnic background or religion.”
“Anyone who displays a malice toward specific groups of Americans has no place in the Ohio National Guard,” he said.
Ohio sent 100 guard members to D.C. this week to help subdue social unrest amid recent anti-racism protests in response to the death of George Floyd who died in police custody in May, DeWine said.
Although further investigation is underway, the governor added, it is “highly likely” the guardsman will be permanently dismissed from the National Guard.
DeWine was careful not to weigh in when prodded by a local Toledo Blade reporter on whether or not he supported Trump’s widely criticized decision earlier this week to forcefully clear peaceful protesters from a D.C. park in preparation for a presidential photo-op.
“I don’t know all the facts,” DeWine said. “I’m not going to critique every single thing the Unites States President does.”
In a statement Thursday Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) demanded that President Trump provide detailed information about unidentified officers patrolling in D.C. — and to provide transparency about their roles and the chain of command for riot police assigned from various federal and state agencies, including the National Guard, to assist in containing protesters.
The investigation into the National Guard member’s conduct raises further questions about background checks and the selection process for guardsmen for the mission that has been widely criticized for officers’ use of excessive force to suppress rights to peaceful demonstrators.