Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty, a congresswoman from Ohio, was reportedly pepper-sprayed while trying to mediate between police officers and protesters in Columbus. The protest was one of many across the nation after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“I was there because I wanted the young protesters to know that in solidarity, that I stand with them,” Beatty told NBC 4. “You know, I’m a grandmother, I’m an elected official, but I’m a Black woman first and I felt the pain.”
Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin confirmed in a post on Twitter that he and the congresswoman were “sprayed with mace or pepper spray” but are now fine.
Beatty said she came to the protest to “support them.” In a video posted on Hardin’s Twitter page, she said, “It was just something in my heart thinking about George Floyd, thinking about all of the injustices, that I needed to be out there, thinking I was protecting them and it probably was not safe.”
Beatty was apparently trying to come between a police officer and a protester before an altercation between both groups happened and she was sprayed.
“One young black female took a step off (the curb) and the cop kind of took that, I guess, ‘sideways.’ Instantly, a white man kind of came to her defense and then was instantly body-slammed to the ground. The congresswoman runs out into the street to hold back the cop and the protesters. Another cop comes up with his bike and pushes the congresswoman out of the way … and then it’s naturally getting heated … that one cop pulls, I don’t know why he does it, he pulls out his Mace and does what he does,” Dominic Manecke, a spokesman for Beatty, told CNN about the incident.
Moreover, Beatty condemned how the police are handling the escalating tension during protests. In the Twitter video, she said that “too much force is not the answer to this.”
Even though she said she is proud of the protesters, she said it is important for them to remain calm. She added, “We must continue to protest, but it must be peaceful and that does not mean we aren’t standing up for justice.”