By WCCO’s Caroline Cummings

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Police presence at the Minnesota State Capitol has expanded even more after Wednesday’s breach in Washington D.C.

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What once was a bustling state capitol building during session before the pandemic is now mostly quiet. As 2021’s regular session of the legislature began, most lawmakers were out of the building due to the pandemic, and patrol cars and a chain linked fence keeping the public away.

Dozens of officers were sent to the building Wednesday, with some guarding the chamber doors. And for legislative leaders inside — including Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and DFL House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler — they say increased protection is welcome.

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“We do feel safe, but they are smart to take precautions. I don’t mind the extra safety measures in light of what we’ve seen this summer. We still have a fence around the capitol, and now what you’ve seen in Washington, D.C.” Gazelka said.

(credit: CBS)

Winkler echoed Gazelka’s comments, saying Minnesota has learned the hard way that not being prepared for unexpected situations can lead to destruction of property, and loss of life.

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“I am glad that the state patrol is ready to protect the capitol and the people who continue to do the people’s business here, because this is about whether democracy and the rule of law and the constitution govern this nation, or it’s a question of whether or not the mob governs this nation,” Winkler said.

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Both Winkler and Gazelka condemned the violence in Washington.

“It’s un-American, I don’t care who it is. You can’t do those types of things,” Gazelka said.

Winkler was more pointed in his condemnation.

“It was a form of insurrection aided, abetted and incited by the very top Republican politicians in the country, and it is completely unacceptable,” Winkler said.

It’s not clear when the increased security presence will diminish. All the Minnesota State Patrol has said is there has been and will be more officers in light of recent protests in St. Paul and in the nation’s capitol.

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Caroline Cummings