MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Concerns of follow-up attacks on all 50 state capitols led to a warning from the FBI, stating that armed protests will be happening around the buildings later this week and leading up to the inauguration for President-Elect Joe Biden.
A source tells WCCO an FBI situational information report, or SIR, that was sent to law enforcement partners around the country was leaked. Information in the SIR indicated some groups are asking people to gather at state capitols across the country.
WCCO was told Minnesota and Michigan may have been specifically mentioned in the report because of recent activity in the states with “Boogaloo Bois.” In September, the United States Attorney’s Office in Minnesota charged two self-described Boogaloo Bois. They’re accused of plotting to destroy a Minnesota courthouse following protests over the death of George Floyd.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety released a statement Monday, saying the state’s prepared for potential unrest:
In addition to the fence around the Minnesota Capitol that has been in place since last summer, the State Patrol has increased its presence to respond to various threats and prevent unlawful entry into the building. We are aware of the national reports of potential insurrection and are tracking possible protest activity as we stand ready to guard the Capitol and protect state employees from harm. We will continue to enhance our response and change tactics as needed. We have been working in partnership with St. Paul Police, Ramsey County Sheriff and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officers.
On several Saturdays this winter — and Wednesday, Jan. 6 in particular — the group Hold the Line Minnesota has hosted protests outside the Minnesota State Capitol. Becky Strohmeier is the group’s organizer.
“We’re fighting for our rights, we’re fighting for fair elections, and we’re fighting to be able to work, to be able to send our kids to school,” Strohmeier said.
The rallies have remained peaceful, even as protesters sharing similar views in Washington D.C. last week turned aggressive and stormed the U.S. Capitol.
“We’ve never encouraged violence. Our flier for the ‘Storm the Capitol’ event [in St. Paul] even said right on it … ‘We will not be breaching the capitol, and you will be arrested if you try,’” Strohmeier said.
The Minnesota State Patrol’s presence has increased both outside and inside the capitol building, ever since the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol. The roads surrounding the state capitol remain closed.
State lawmakers appreciate the extra security, and Congressman Pete Stauber condemns any potential attack on a state capitol.
“Violence is wrong. It was wrong last Wednesday in the [U.S.] Capitol. It was wrong earlier this summer in Minneapolis when Minneapolis burnt down,” Stauber said.
Strohmeier says Hold the Line Minnesota will return to the steps of the capitol this Saturday to peacefully protest, and she says they respect the state patrol’s efforts to keep the area secure.
“They’re doing what they need to do and I support them 100% in that,” she said.
Fliers have circulated online about another capitol protest this Sunday in St. Paul. Strohmeier said her group is not connected to that event, and also discourages people from visiting the capitol Sunday out of caution.
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