CLERMONT COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - Unrest persisted in Bethel Monday, one day after clashes ended a planned peaceful protest in this rural Ohio town of 2,700 people.
A police-mandated curfew came and went at 9 p.m. with little incident, but the day was marked by heated exchanges, threatening postures and arrests.
Several arrests occurred around 6:30 p.m., when Bethel Police Chief Steve Teague said two people were taken into custody for fighting and another for intoxication.
Two more arrests occurred around 8:30 p.m. for a total of five arrests throughout the day.
“If you would’ve asked me a week ago if any of this would come to Bethel, I would’ve said never,” Teague said. “I’m still kind of in shock of it being here.”
The scenes Monday were sometimes tense, as protesters and anti-protesters sparred across the bodies of police officers acting as a barricade.
Some people toted guns and baseball bats. Many stood around with their phones out, waiting as a rumor circulated on social media suggesting people were being bussed in from around the state to cause unrest.
“It’s kind of amazing how quick social media spreads,” Teague said. “We were told this morning they were bussing in protestors. We’re given screen shots from social media with some guns saying, ‘We’re going to Bethel, we’ll take care of what they didn’t take care of yesterday.'”
Bethel police officers were joined at the scene by Clermont County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers.
Sunday’s incident unfolded after Village of Bethel Administrator Travis Dotson said motorcycle groups, Back the Blue organizations and Second Amendment advocates disrupted a protest by Bethel’s Solidarity with Black Lives group.
The protest was expected to draw around 25 people, according to Dotson. It ended up drawing around 800, including 250 motorcycles that occupied the protest area and forced the protesters to move.
Around 10 altercations occurred, some caught on video. Police are currently investigating those incidents, including one involving a Bethel police officer who remains on the force.
Cadence Deitsch says she was there Sunday with her mother in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. She says a biker wouldn’t let her be on the sidewalk and others were shouting racial epithets at her.
“It saddens me to see how many people were here and so against it," Deitsch said. "And people that are just racist, and just using that word around like it’s nothing.”