Ohio Rep. Joyce Beatty was pepper-sprayed by police in Columbus on Saturday during a protest decrying police brutality and demanding justice for George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis after an officer knelt on his neck.
Beatty, who is Black, denounced the violence perpetrated by both demonstrators and police in Columbus and elsewhere in the aftermath of Floyd’s death.
Violence “doesn’t work — violence either way,” she told NPR’s “Weekend Edition” on Sunday.
“We have to somehow make sure that we get the word out that you cannot come in and tear up buildings,” said Beatty, a Democrat. “When you break windows and destroy businesses and people get hurt, that’s not going to resolve the problem of why George Floyd died.”
Beatty said in an earlier interview that she’d attended the protest to stand “in solidarity” with demonstrators.
“You know, I’m a grandmother, I’m an elected official, but I’m a black woman first and I felt the pain,” she told NBC 4.
Beatty was with Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin and Kevin Boyce, a member of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, when she was pepper-sprayed by police.
Columbus Dispatch photojournalist Kyle Robertson captured the violent encounter in a series of photos, which he shared on Twitter.
Politico also shared a video of the incident.
Dominic Manecke, a spokesman for Beatty, told CNN the lawmaker had been trying to mediate between demonstrators and police when she was pepper-sprayed.
“People are angry. Tensions are very high and she went down there as a voice of reason. She has a very good connection with the community and was trying to be a mediator,” Manecke said, adding that Beatty got caught in a “melee” as tensions flared between the two sides.
Following the incident, Beatty, Hardin and Boyce urged calm in a video posted to Twitter.
“Too much force is not the answer to this,” Beatty said.
Protests, some of them violent, have rocked the nation for days since Floyd’s death.
In Columbus on Sunday, hundreds took to the streets again for what was largely a peaceful demonstration. At around 8 p.m., two hours before the city’s curfew was set to kick in, Columbus police ordered protesters ― some of whom threw water bottles at officers ― to disperse immediately. Officers then used wooden projectiles and tear gas against demonstrators, WOSU Public Media reported.