Bodybuilders and sports fans at the Arnold event stood dumbfounded outside the Columbus Convention Center Saturday afternoon as the "No More in 614" demonstrators marched by holding signs saying "Black Lives Matter," "No Homeless Children," "Don't Frack the Wayne National Forest" and other demands to our local government. They chanted "No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here!" which could be interpreted either as a response to Trump's call for deportations, or a welcome to our country to Arnold himself. A few Arnold-goers yelled "Make America Great!" while others looked surprised, and a few gave the protestors a thumbs up.
The event was promoted as follows: "The first week of March, 200,000 people will descend on Columbus for the Arnold Sports Festival. They will see the glistening skyscrapers and hip downtown eateries, but I-70, I-71 and OH-315 will take them to#OpportunityCity without having to see #TheOtherColumbus. So on March 4, we’re going to take these “invisible” problems to them. Columbus is a city of winners and losers. And Mayor Andrew Ginther and his wealthy friends would like us losers to stay in our crumbling neighborhoods patrolled by racist cops, supplied with water threatened by fracking, and governed by colluding, crony politicians. But some of us losers have had enough, and we’re coming out to say: NO MORE IN 614!"
One of the issues the "No More in 614" demonstration emphasized was the fact that there are many opportunities for men to "have a good time" with women for hire during the Arnold weekend in Columbus, and the protestors chanted "No more sex slaves!" as they marched by the Convention Center. Ironically, at that moment a large promotional truck drove slowly past the Center advertising a local "gentlemen's club" with huge images of provocatively dressed women on the side of the truck.
The March 4th gathering started at the gazebo in Goodale Park with speakers at noon and then proceeded to march past the Convention Center and back. There was heavy police presence, but the police were not aggressive and even helped stop traffic and the march went across the intersections. The traffic was snarled and much activity around the site of the Arnold Classic, but the protest and march went off without any problems.
Speakers at the gazebo included Ohio Green Party Co-Chairs Bob Fitrakis and Connie Gadell-Newton, talking about the Green Party and the Ten Key Values and current local Green Party issues including community policing and women's issues. Jonathan Beard spoke about the undemocratic nature of the local Democratic Party and Columbus City Council. Ruben Herrera of the Central Ohio Workers Center spoke about immigration issues, and Carolyn Haring of the Columbus Community Bill of Rights announced that the petitions need to be submitted on March 10 to put the issue on the local ballot.
Organizers Brynette Turner and Isaiah St. John collected information from participants for networking purposes and there was a team of legal observers close by at all times.