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Ohio National Guard working on different missions regarding protests, coronavirus

On top of responding to recent protests, the Ohio National Guard is also assisting in the coronavirus response.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Members of the Ohio National Guard are on the ground in cities across Ohio, following last weekend's protests. What started peacefully turned violent in some major cities, including Toledo. 

"When we put troops like this on the ground they come with the ability to help with crowd control, conduct security at critical sites, they can serve as a quick reaction force,"  Adj. Maj. Gen. John Harris with the Ohio National Guard said. 

Members of the National Guard are on the ground in Cleveland and Columbus after protests broke out over the past couple of days. No request has been made for troops to come to Toledo or any other major Ohio city.  

Harris said the National Guard is strictly there to support local law enforcement and enforce orders from municipalities. They are using the minimal amount of force to support the cities where they are serving.  

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"To ensure property is protected, lives are protected. We're not here to impose martial law, take over any cities, we're not imposing curfews. We do not impose curfews we do not impose martial law," Harris said.

National Guard members from the Army and the Air Force are all trained on civil crowd control at different levels. 

Leaders with the guard explained they have not had this big of an in-state mission response since the blizzard of 1978. On top of responding to the recent protests, they are also still on the coronavirus response and has various missions deployed throughout Ohio

"We're putting guardsmen to help augment the staff in correctional facilities so they can remain safe and the staff working there can remain safe," Harris said.

On top of helping in correctional facilities, the guard is also assisting in nursing homes and Ohio food banks. Ohio has the fourth largest national guard in the country, which Harris explained makes them very robust. 

Although they are responding as needed right now, Harris says he hopes everyone realizes the importance of getting things back on track.

"My only plea is that we can restore order here very soon, we are just full of challenges between COVID-19. It's very difficult to watch because we know how infectious this disease is," Harris said. 

In the meantime, top generals are evaluating how things continue to play out across the state before sending more troops.