BY JOE WESSELS
Loveland Local News
LOVELAND, Ohio — Group “Free Ohio Now” hopes to have a rally in downtown Loveland on Saturday protesting Gov. DeWine and Ohio Health Department Director Dr. Amy Acton’s stay-at-home orders.
UPDATE (3:20 p.m.): The city of Loveland said in a release it is working with Free Ohio Now to support its constitutional right to protest and has contacted the group’s organizer.
“It is our intention to work together to make sure the event is safe for everyone,” the release said.
Questions to Police Chief Sean Rahe have not been answered. Questions to both the city manager and police chief about whether the group has obtained a permit were not answered.
UPDATE (2:46 p.m.): Loveland Mayor Kathy Bailey says she does not support the protest in downtown Loveland on Saturday. She said she has had no communication with the group and is not familiar with them.
“While I support the right to protest, I do not support the planned protest in downtown Loveland, nor the disruption it could cause to our businesses and our fire, EMS, police services. I also find it ludicrous that the group intends to protest in downtown Loveland in support of Warren County businesses, when downtown Loveland sits entirely in Clermont County,” Bailey wrote in an email. “…We are in no position to demand anything of (Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine). We did, however, implore the governor to re-open the remaining shuttered businesses with guidelines to operate safely and to accommodate customers. The intimation that I would support the protest in light of this letter is false.”
ORIGINAL STORY CONTINUES BELOW:
Former Warren County Republican Central Committee Member Deb Giehl is organizing the event in conjunction with other county-centric protests planned throughout the state Saturday. Loveland’s is under Warren County’s protest, even though downtown Loveland is in Clermont County. Clermont County’s protest is scheduled for the Clermont County Courthouse is Batavia.
Giehl said she has only been planning the protest for about 15 hours and is still working out the details.
“I’m walking out the door now to go talk to the Loveland police chief,” she said. She said she has not spoken to the police chief by phone or otherwise or City Manager David Kennedy, but plans to today.
Giehl said she believes she has the support of Loveland Mayor Kathy Bailey and Vice Mayor Rob Weisgerber. She cited a letter posted on the Loveland city’s website today to Gov. DeWine citing economic damage to the city and encouraging the governor to allow restaurants to re-open by May 12. Giehl said she plans to speak to both of them personally later today. The mayor and vice mayor did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.
Exactly where the protest will take place remains unclear while Giehl works with the city to find a suitable location.
“My first thought was to do it in downtown Loveland,” she said. “It’s a high traffic area, and there’s the bike trail and all of those businesses that are closed because of all of this.”
She also said she envisions people walking up and down the public sidewalks near the Loveland Stage Company and into the more centralized part of downtown near the bike trail. Those details will be worked out soon, she said.
“It’s going to depend on how many people we have (show up),” she said.
Asked if she will require protestors to social-distance and wear masks and take other public health precautions, Giehl said she would follow the city’s guidance and the law.
“Whatever they tell us we have to do, that’s we have to do,” she said.
Requests for comment from City Manager David Kennedy and Police Chief Sean Rahe were not immediately answered.
STORY WILL BE UPDATED…