By WCCO Reporter Caroline Cummings
ST. PAUL, MINN. (WCCO) — A local protest at the Minnesota State Capitol last Wednesday — the same day as the U.S. Capitol siege — didn’t turn violent, but the threat was troubling enough to prompt the Minnesota State Patrol to move Gov. Tim Walz’s teen son to a safer location, the governor said during a legislative forum on Monday.
The “Storm the Capitol” rally on Jan. 6 drew hundreds to St. Paul to protest the outcome of the election. Among those attending were six House GOP members, prompting DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman and DFL Majority Leader Ryan Winkler to call on their colleagues to denounce the violent rhetoric used during the demonstration.
“We’re investigating whether there were members of the Minnesota House of Representatives who advocated for, incited or supported acts of domestic terrorism,” Hortman said. “I do know there were speakers at the rally who advocated for civil war and for casualties.”
Walz said there were threats of taking him and his family “prisoner,” and that “there may be casualties.” And in response, Minnesota State Patrol troopers entered the governor’s residence and moved his teenaged son elsewhere for fear of his safety.
“I take real umbrage with the idea that what happened here at our Capitol on Wednesday was OK,” Walz said. “Because the result of that in that language, of taking the governor and his family prisoner, and there may be casualties, resulted for the first time the state patrol entering the living quarters and removing my 14-year-old son to a safe location, as he’s crying looking for his dog, wondering what’s going on.”
Walz disclosed the security measures that law enforcement took to protect his family for the first time while speaking during a virtual event, hosted by Forum News Service, with legislative leaders and members of the press Monday morning.
Tensions ran high during much the forum, the protests of last week taking up a majority of the conversation. Republicans and Democrats both sharply criticized each other.
GOP leaders Sen. Paul Gazelka and Rep. Kurt Daudt both condemned the angry pro-Trump mob that stormed the capitol, but they repeatedly harked back to the riots in wake of George Floyd’s death.
They reprimanded DFL leaders for not adequately denouncing the violence that unfolded over the summer.
“And to me, you can’t have it both ways. We’ve spent how many minutes now talking about this issue in Washington D.C. when Democrats in the state have turned a blind eye to violence, inciting violence, protesting that is violent right in our own communities,” said Daudt. “Democrats now join me in saying what happened over the summer was equally or as wrong.”
Walz called the comparison by the GOP a “false equivalency,” and was so disappointed in how the conversation progressed that he threatened to leave the forum early.
“This denial of the rhetoric that was pushed from the president, continues to be pushed, that there was a fake election to undermine our system is simply beyond the pale. Were there people in Minneapolis that illegally looted and burned? Absolutely. That’s why we brought them to justice,” Walz said. “But it doesn’t change the fact of why were those people on the streets in Minneapolis, versus why were those people on the in the Capitol building.”
On Monday afternoon, all 59 members of the House GOP signed onto a statement denouncing the violent rhetoric during the St. Paul protest last Wednesday. They joined Democrats in calling for an investigation.
“Those who participated in criminal destruction of property and assaults on our law enforcement officials at the United States Capitol should be arrested and prosecuted, and those who made threats of violence at the rally in Saint Paul should be investigated and held accountable,” the statement from House Republicans said.
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