By WCCO’s Caroline Cummings
ST. PAUL, MINN. (WCCO) — Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday will sign a new executive order to activate the Minnesota National Guard, bolstering security in light of threats of violence and armed protests at the State Capitol building in the coming days.
There is concern about more attacks on all 50 state capitols in the days ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, in wake of the angry pro-Trump mob that breached the United States Capitol last week. Michigan and Minnesota were specifically named in an FBI warning because of recent activity by far-right group the “Boogaloo Bois” here.
Walz declined to give many specifics to reporters Tuesday about the procedures, citing sensitivity of security plans during an ongoing threat.
“What I can assure you is the plans are in place,” Walz said.
He said he spoke to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday about the specific threats in the two states.
“I think what you can expect to see is an appropriate presence of folks there to ensure that there’s peaceful gatherings, to make sure that the intent to do damage to any of the buildings will not happen, and that folks can go about doing their daily things without interference from folks who choose to disrupt,” Walz said.
More details about the National Guard deployment are expected Wednesday morning. The announcement comes one day after Walz revealed that his 14-year-old son was evacuated from the governor’s residence during the St. Paul protest on the same day of the insurrection in Washington D.C.
At the local rally on Jan. 6, protestors reportedly called for “casualties” and “civil war.” Six Republican members of the Minnesota House of Representatives attended that demonstration, which is triggering an investigation by DFL members of the House.
Walz said the threats extend further than just to him and his family. State lawmakers are also being targeted, and law enforcement is monitoring risks to their safety, too.
The state is setting up a 24/7 hotline to connect them to resources, and officials are coordinating with local police.
“This is a new world now where we’ve seen people have taken rhetoric offline and taken it into the real world. Legislators here, these are moms and dads and business owners and teachers and nurses and doctors who come to the Capitol to do the people’s work for a couple months out of the year,” Walz said. “These people are posting their names and their addresses online and threatening to go to their houses, so they are rightfully concerned.”
One organizer for a protest planned for Saturday in St. Paul told WCCO that the group plans to “respect” the Minnesota State Patrol’s efforts to keep the area safe, and maintained they will remain peaceful. The Minnesota National Guard will also send a company of more than 130 soldiers to Washington D.C. to help with inauguration security.
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