Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is denouncing an anti-Semitic sign at a recent protest as well as remarks by a state senator and his wife about Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, who is Jewish.
On Wednesday, DeWine posted on his Facebook page:
I am deeply concerned by the anti-Semitic sign at Ohio’s Statehouse during a recent protest rally. The sign was vile and disgusting. While even disgusting speech is constitutionally protected, it still demands condemnation. The recent Internet post by Ohio State Senator Andrew Brenner, likening Ohio’s Department of Health Director’s actions to fight the corona virus to those taken by the Nazis in Germany during World War II, must also be condemned. The comments showed a complete lack of understanding of the Holocaust — made even more offensive by posting on Holocaust Memorial Day — and was a slur on a good, compassionate, and honorable person who has worked non-stop to save lives and protect her fellow citizens. Any complaints about the policy of this administration need to be directed at me. I am the office holder, and I appointed the Director. Ultimately, I am responsible for the decisions in regard to the corona virus. The buck stops with me.
The protest last week marked at least the third demonstration in front of the Ohio Statehouse in two weeks and the second protest this week, The Ohio Star reported. The protests have been peaceful but for the one sign.
Regarding Brenner, it was actually a remark made by his wife initially, which the senator commented on, WBNS said.
The initial post on Facebook came from the wife of Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell), Sara Brenner, to which the senator reportedly commented on the post “We won’t allow that to happen in Ohio.”
According to the Columbus Dispatch, and the Ohio Capital Journal, Sara Brenner said in a now-deleted Facebook post from Tuesday evening, “With a German accent, in your head say ‘show me your papers’…This is downright scary! You don’t issue people certificates to be able to function outside their home. … This actually feels like Hitler’s Germany where you had to have blonde hair and blue eyes to be able to function anywhere, and you were damned otherwise. When are people going to say enough is enough?”
Brenner said in a statement:
Today, it was reported in an online news outlet that I said something inappropriate and inflammatory on social media. What I actually said was not the same as what is being reported. I would never, ever say what I am accused of saying. I understand that while people may differ on policy issues, the manner in which it was reported was upsetting, inflammatory and hurtful.
I apologize to Dr. Acton, because I’m sure she was offended by the comments as they were reported. I have also spoken with leaders from Ohio’s Jewish community, for whom I have great respect, and I appreciate the understanding and support I have received.
I am confident that Governor DeWine and Dr. Acton have Ohio’s best interests in mind, and I appreciate their hard work and efforts in finding a responsible path forward. This is a time for us to work together, and I am committed to doing so for all Ohioans.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.