Downtown businesses vandalized after police deployed pepper spray against the estimated crowd of 400 gathered in protest

The images and videos started filling social media timelines early Thursday evening as hundreds of protesters gathered at the intersection of Broad and High streets Downtown in response to the May 25 death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who was killed by Minneapolis police during an arrest, sparking nationwide actions.

By morning, windows had been shattered along South High Street. The Columbus Commons DGX, an offshoot of Dollar General, had been broken into and looted. The destruction occurred after police deployed pepper spray to disperse the crowd shortly after 11 p.m., according to the Dispatch. Prior to the police escalation, the protest had been testy, though largely peaceful, with reports of some throwing full plastic water bottles at officers.

Mayor Andrew Ginther addressed the protests on Twitter, boldly admitting to the existence of racism while calling for peaceful demonstration. "I understand why some residents are angry and taking to the streets. I have said many times that racism exists across the country, state and right here in Columbus. We are committed to addressing racism wherever we see it," he wrote. "I respect peaceful protests and ask residents to remain peaceful in their actions tonight and every night."

Not that even peaceful forms of protest are any more respected by those in power.