Drivers in downtown Columbus, Ohio, called 911 last week saying protesters were surrounding and threatening them, WSYX-TV reported.
The station played audio of one frightened woman who told a dispatcher that protesters were "laying" on her vehicle.
A male 911 caller said, "I'm being threatened. I want the police here now. They're surrounding my car. They're blocking traffic. The police need to protect me," WSYX reported.
Another man told 911 that motorcyclists were "popping wheelies" and that it looked nothing like a protest, the station said.
How did one 911 dispatcher respond?
The 911 dispatcher who took the aforementioned man's call was heard on audio saying that Democratic Mayor Andrew Ginther gave authorities some pretty explicit instructions about protesters, WSYX reported.
"We were told by our mayor to stand down, so the mayor has given them full reins of the street," the dispatcher said, according to the station.
The caller replied, "You've got to be kidding me."
"Nope," the dispatcher was heard answering, "we were told to stand down."
WSYX also noted a Facebook post was shared multiple times warning people to stay away from downtown and alleging protesters were blocking cars, police cruisers, and buses. The post's author added that officers are under a city-imposed order to stand down and "even if we do respond, you're on your own," the station added.
What did police have to say?
Columbus police disputed the "stand down" claim on the department's Facebook page, calling it "false."
"CPD officers have not been asked to 'stand down' to protesters," the post added. "No direction that Mayor Ginther has given to Chief [Thomas] Quinlan over the last three days would have prevented police officers from intervening in a situation where a car or a person within it were being attacked. If people or property are threatened, there are many tactics at the disposal of police to address the situation. However, the incident described does not sound like one in which tear gas would have been considered appropriate before this week's direction."
What did the mayor have to say?
The mayor's office said there was no executive order for police to stand down, WSYX reported, and that Ginther is open to recommendations from the Fraternal Order of Police to address the community concerns.
What did an FOP member have to say?
"From what I'm hearing from our brass and our rank and file, there is a lot of confusion and not very good direction being given on how to handle those situations," Keith Ferrell of the FOP told the station. "And I just think the public and the officers deserve to know how we're gonna handle these things."
Columbus Police told Stand Down by Mayor Ginther youtu.be