More than 100 people showed up outside the painted white brick home adorned with a pink wreath and a neatly manicured lawn Wednesday evening
The Northwest Side residence in The Knolls subdivision is the home of Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther.
At one point, the demonstrators laid down flat on the ground for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in the road in front of Ginther’s house. That was the amount of time a Minneapolis police officer put his knee on the neck of George Floyd, which killed him and triggered national outrage.
The protest brought to the mayor’s front door came with local demands for change at Columbus Division of Police including an end to what protesters said was systemic racism and brutality against minorities.
"That’s the intention -- to be peaceful but to make sure the message is loud and clear. We want change," said Bianca Moore, 27, of Columbus. "I just want to wake up in a world where my dad isn’t the next hashtag, or my cousins, or my mom, or my uncles."
Neighbors on the mayor’s street watched from their yards and porches. The Ginthers moved into their home last August.
On neighbor, Caryn Beach, who has lived in the neighborhood 17 years, described the Ginther family as "very quiet" and said that they "very much stay to themselves." She was watering her flowers, including marigolds and coneflowers, as protesters began to trickle in.
"I am deeply deeply appalled by the death of George Floyd. It just cannot happen again. It cannot," said Beach, who attended a protest in Upper Arlington earlier in the day. "I don’t want anybody treated like that. The thought that it was OK and that three other police officers were standing there -- it shook me to my core."
Before the protest, Beach hoped city officials would show up and start a dialogue.
The protest lasted two hours. Police cruisers drove by the street but there was no presence or interaction with the crowd. A spokeswoman for Ginther’s office said the mayor was attending prayer service for peace and justice at Vineyard Columbus during the protest at his home.
"I am committed to the same racial justice protesters seek and to rooting out racism and stopping police violence against people of color in Columbus and in every city in America. It is long past time, and we must get to work now. Columbus I taking action and is making real change, but as we raise our collective voices to take a stand against racism, we must also pause to listen to each other," said Ginther in a statement provided by his spokeswoman.
"I hear these protesters, and I ask them to join with me to do the hard work to combat racism in the days and weeks ahead."
Protests and vandalism rocked the city beginning May 28.
On Tuesday, Ginther walked with protesters Downtown along with Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan. Ginther and council members have called for a civilian-review board to investigate police.
A civilian-review board would require changes to the city’s contract with the police union, which expires in December.
When asked, protesters at Ginther’s home, described the move of him eventually joining protests as "propaganda" and said they don’t trust him. One of the chants at the event was "Ginther’s a traitor." Some called for de-funding the police division.
On the seventh consecutive day of protests in the city since the May 25 death of Floyd, the number of attendees was noticeably down. Late Wednesday afternoon there were about 300-400 protesters, but more people streamed Downtown into the evening hours.
Columbus Public Health also announced Wednesday that a person who participated in protests Downtown tested positive for COVID-19 a day before the protests began last Thursday. Columbus Public Health advised that people with coronavirus symptoms should stay home and get tested immediately.
On late Wednesday afternoon, about 300 protesters gathered in front of a stone memorial honoring President William McKinley.
Speakers were trying to rally the remaining troops. "The biggest pandemic is racism," said one speaker, raising cheers from those gathered.
Earl Jones, 21, of the East Side helped to organize this week’s activities. He spoke of how black people like himself feel like they are viewed as suspect because they are black.
"It time for the oppressors to stop oppressing us. We are the people of Columbus and we need to take our streets back," Jones said.
A large group then marched east out of Downtown along Long Street two miles to the Mount Vernon Plaza, where they chanted a few slogans and then circled back down Broad Street to the Statehouse.
Dwight Whitehead, 52, of the South Side, has been coming Downtown for the protests practically every day.
A highlight for him was when a few State Highway Patrol troopers briefly took a knee Monday on the steps of the Statehouse as a show of mutual respect. He said he was one of the people who helped persuade troopers.
"I watched history," Whitehead said.
Izaya Nolan, 24, of Bexley, wearing a Black Lives Matters hat, was standing near the corner of Broad Street at an entrance to the Statehouse lawn.
Nolan said she was happy to hear about the enhancement of murder charges against one Minneapolis police accused of causing George Floyd’s death and the arrest of three other officers.
"Today there feels like there is a little bit of hope," Nolan said.
Her makeshift sign includes what she believes her prescription is. "Defund the police. Refund our inner city schools. Stop the school to prison pipeline."
"There are systemic problems. The militarization of police takes away money from inner city schools," Nolan said.