Ohio state rep attends rally to honor police officers – gets spit on, hit with bottles by protestors

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ATHENS, OH – A Republican Ohio state representative said he was attacked by protesters as he attended a rally to honor police officers.

According to The Columbia Dispatch, Rep. Jay Edwards said he was followed to his car by a group of counter protesters who shouted insults, blocked his path, spit and threw bottles at him as he attempted to leave a “Defend the Police” rally in Athens on Sunday.

Edwards told The Columbia Dispatch:

“It was very odd to see someone take down their mask to spit on you. I wouldn’t say that I was scared. It was an eerie feeling.”

An account on Facebook named Eli Bugsy proudly posted video footage of protesters following Edwards to a vehicle:

“High energy at the counter protest to the ‘Defend the Police’ action at the courthouse. We chased our racist state rep Jay Edwards to his car but the police stopped us from blocking him in.

Eventually we crossed the street and surrounded the pro-cop holdouts. People started debating with the racists and eventually, they got the last one to put down his rifle on the sidewalk, which was seen as a win.

I think it was the smallest of wins and it took black folks hours of labor to get it, so I hesitate to even post the video where we’re all clapping and cheering about it.

We live in small town appalachia though, and I have hope for these white folks.”

On his Facebook post, Edwards posted a link to a video taken at the rally and said:

“Today was an interesting day. I attended a Defend the Police Rally at the Athens Courthouse. The turnout was amazing. The people in support of the police were of all walks of life. Democrats, Republicans, Men, Women, Black, White, Etc.

“Towards the end of the event, a counter protest showed up. Some people brought their small children. I couldn’t believe they would subject them to the language they chose to shout.

I had a few of them walk across the street and have a dialogue. It took about 10 minutes to find out they actually agreed with me more than the side they were originally on.

“When I decided to leave, I was rushed and surrounded. The video shows the end of things, but doesn’t show everything. What it doesn’t show…I was spit on, bumped into, and had liquids and bottles thrown at me.

I even heard one person mention that the masks were being worn to protect their identities. These cowards didn’t worry me, but was happy to have the police there just in case. They did help in not allowing them to surround my car.

“The good news.. the Defending the Police side was not only much more diverse, but outnumbered the other side greatly. To the police there to help me today, Thank You! To all the police out there being attacked right now, Thank You! You have a job that not many would ever do..especially right now.

“P.S. It was quite odd to realize I just recently helped a few of the people saying ‘F*** Jay Edwards’ with their unemployment last week. I guess they were okay with me when they needed my help. Similar to the police, they hate them until they need them. The irony.

“Video courtesy of The Post.”

A group called Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) SE Ohio organized the counter rally, which they called “Defend Our Community.” On their Facebook page, some suggested Edwards was lying about the spit and bottles.

Em Hepp posted on the public Facebook page of SURJ:

“People that were at the protest say that he was not spit on and bottles were not thrown. Anyone with video of the interaction might want to forward it on to the dispatch for clarification.”

A person named Scott Mooney responded to Hepp’s post and claimed the attacks never happened:

“I was standing right next to him when this happened. Nothing was thrown at him. He was splashed with water, from a water bottle, and I told the kid who did it to stop, and he did. This guy is a lying POS.”

Edwards told The Columbia Dispatch that someone had spit at him before the video recording started:

“I was completely surrounded. I stopped walking. I realized if I continued walking I would have to start touching people, pushing them to get past. That’s a point, in my opinion, where it’s gone too far.”

Edwards also said that’s when Athens police officers walked over and escorted him to his car:

“It’s a good example of why I defend the police.”

The disrespect is out of control.  Look no further than what happened in Springfield, Massachusetts last week in a “hot mic” moment.

SPRINGFIELD, MA.- The so-called “new normal” of conducting public meetings via videoconferencing has the ability to provide some, shall we say “interesting” moments. One such moment happened this past Monday during a Springfield (MA) Budget Hearing, when the City Clerk directed an expletive at the Police Commissioner. 

Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood was speaking during the police portion of the budget, and she commented that morale on the police department was at an all-time low, not surprising given the anti-police sentiment that has been permeating the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

While there have been some supporters, most politicians across the country, as well as so-called sports “stars,” Hollywood “beautiful people” and most of the media have accused police of systemic racism.

While watching the Zoom video of the meeting, most of the faces of those attending the meeting were visible, which is typical for Zoom meetings. Some however did not have their cameras turned on, so when they spoke, just their name came up.

After Clapprood made her remark, a voice said:

“Aw, bitch, shut the fuck up.”

As the statement was made, the Zoom had the name Tasheena Davis come up on the screen, Springfield’s city clerk.

Ironically, Davis just happens to be someone who has been critical of some of Clapprood’s decisions, sources told MassLive.

That information was gained from private meetings conducted by a newly formed task force which is made up solely of black department heads under Mayor Domenic Sarno.

After the statement was made, Sarno and City Council President Justin Hurst appeared stunned.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Sarno replied to the comment.

“I’m sorry, somebody was out of order there. I don’t know who that was, and  I apologize to the commissioner,” Hurst said.

“Completely out of order,” Sarno continued.

The meeting was quiet momentarily, as Hurst asked Davis to take roll call of the councilors. After a few moments of awkward silence, Davis spoke up and apologized.

Then the excuses started.

“I’m so sorry, that was me, but I was not talking to the commissioner…someone walked into my house. My cousin and her boyfriend were arguing.”

Just like the child who is found up on the counter with his hands in the cookie jar, and mom asks, “Little Johnny, what are you doing?” Davis tried to deny she was in fact responding to the commissioner.

“I’m not doing anything mommy.”

MassLive’s print version, the Springfield Republican said that they reviewed the audio several times, as did Law Enforcement Today and neither were able to find any type of background noise on the clip indicating any type of argument, though as MassLive notes, Zoom would not necessarily pick up noise coming from another room.

However, given the history between Davis and Clapprood, that seems a bit thin.

Davis continued her apology tour on Tuesday, sending an email to both Sarno and Clapprood, while admitting at a second meeting at Tuesday that while she had made the comment it was not directed at the commissioner.

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Murdered officer's grave desecrated before headstone even placed

For her part, Commissioner Clapprood wasn’t biting.

“I do not believe she was talking to a family member. I listened to the clip over and over and I didn’t hear anyone in the background. I do not accept her apology and if that’s the way she feels about me personally and this department, that is a big problem,” the commissioner said in an interview. “I’d like to get to the truth.”

She continued:

“I’m discouraged and disappointed that anyone in that room would come out with those comments.”

Davis refused a request by MassLive for a comment on the incident. She was appointed by the City Council less than a year ago, having previously worked in the Law Department as a city attorney.

Two councilmen, however, came to Davis’ defense, including council president Justin Hurst, another vocal critic of the police department. Of course.

“I stand behind Attorney Davis 100%,” Hurst said. “She made a mistake that could have happened to any of us considering these unusual times and remote technology.

If she says she wasn’t speaking to the Commissioner, then I believe her until proven otherwise. She has done an unbelievable job as our clerk and we all make mistakes that we have to learn from. This situation is no different.”

City Council Malo Brown, apparently up on his bible verses said:

“He without sin throw the first stone.”

And we wonder why kids accept responsibility for nothing.

Councilor Mike Fenton wasn’t buying Davis’ explanation, saying the “comments were way out of line, way out of line.”

When asked if he believed Davis’ explanation about the outburst, Fenton refused to answer. Silence speaks louder than words at times.

While there are no plans for immediate discipline, Sarno didn’t dismiss the possibility entirely, and said he would be willing to look at taking “further action,” as well as an independent review if the situation called for it.

Sarno said that both his and Clapprood’s first response when she offered her bizarre explanation was to check on her well-being, since she intimated there was a domestic disturbance going on.

“We said: ‘Are you in trouble…are you OK, do you need us to send a car over?’” “My first thought was that someone hacked into the meeting because it’s happening all over the country.”

Focus Springfield Community Television broadcasts all public meetings and was apparently trying to scrub the profanity from the video. The plan is to apparently mute the audio for a few seconds, which as MassLive notes may draw even increasingly more attention to it.

Of course, doing that may lead to further questions, according to station manager Stephen Cary, since there were reactions to the comment immediately thereafter. There were also concerns that by editing the tape there could be issues of violating the Commonwealth’s open meeting laws.

For her part, Clapprood remains concerned about Davis’ comments, since she swears in new police officers as part of her official duties and is also the so-called “gatekeeper” for public records requests related to the Springfield PD’s newly launched police body camera program.

“We’re partnering up with of course the law department in terms of requests for body-cam footage…and I know she was slated to be one of the attorneys helping with that,” the commissioner stated. “If that’s how she feels about me and this department we need to look at that…we need to get to the truth of the matter.”

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