CINCINNATI (AP) — The Donald Trump presidency is keeping Ohioans stirred up, much like the Donald Trump campaign did in the swing state.
His first two weeks in office spurred demonstrations on a range of issues, starting with women’s rallies that drew big crowds including a Cleveland police-estimated 15,000 people and continuing this week with demonstrations against his immigration policies. One resulted in some 70 arrests Wednesday evening at Ohio University. Local leaders in cities across the state are debating his policies, with heated divisions emerging in Cincinnati over his opposition to sanctuary cities.
There have been near-daily demonstrations outside the Statehouse, at airports and city halls and on campuses, with no end in sight.
The Ohio Democratic Party chairman, David Pepper, hopes the outpouring of activism in protests will mean ongoing political action in a state in which Republicans have had the momentum.
“First thing, stop some of these really unfortunate things that are being proposed,” Pepper said. “Secondly, take a lot of that energy and channel it into much more of a grassroots effort to win elections.”
Those who supported Trump as he carried Ohio on his way to the White House say the Republican’s brash decision making so far only strengthens his support.
“We’re elated to have a president who is actually doing what he said he would do,” said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones, an early Trump supporter. “The whiners whine and the protesters protest, and the rest of us go to work.”
The Cleveland City Council called Trump’s executive order halting immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries un-American, the Summit County Council in Akron approved a resolution opposing the order, and Columbus officials said they’ll oppose using city resources to enforce federal immigration policy and plan to create a legal-defense fund to help affected immigrants and refugees.
Cincinnati’s mayor, John Cranley, blasted the order and declared that his city will continue to welcome immigrants as “a sanctuary city.” State Treasurer Josh Mandel, a Republican running for U.S. Senate in 2018, came to Cincinnati the next day to join opponents saying that would happen “over our dead body.”
That led to a heated city council session Wednesday in which more than 150 people turned out for some two hours of public comment before council voted 6-2 for a resolution declaring Cincinnati a “welcoming and inclusive city for all immigrants to live, work or visit.”
There is no legal definition of “sanctuary city” policies. But they usually involve local municipalities curtailing cooperation with federal immigration authorities on some matters. Trump has threatened to withhold money from local jurisdictions that don’t cooperate.
Attorney General Mike DeWine said it’s sometimes unclear what cities mean with the sanctuary label, but they still need to follow the law. He urged a calm approach during his recent appearance in Columbus at the annual state legislative preview sponsored by The Associated Press.
“It’s a debate that inflames people, and we need to cool it down a little bit,” DeWine said.
Associated Press writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus contributed to this report.