ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota state officials say that they are prepared for any possible armed protests in the coming days ahead of Joe Biden’s Inauguration, but that there are no “credible” or “immediate threats of violence at the state capitol.
Gov. Tim Walz convened state and local law enforcement on Friday to assure Minnesotans that officials are planning for the worst-case scenario at the state capitol and other state buildings in the coming days.READ MORE: Hospitality, Travel Industries See ‘Glimmers Of Hope’ For Job Return, Economic Recovery
It’s all hands on deck from the National Guard — which Walz activated Wednesday by executive order — to local St. Paul police. The governor said emergency operation centers are open and agencies are coordinating together.
“We take these threats seriously because we’ve seen them manifest themselves,” Walz told reporters in St. Paul. “I can assure Minnesotans the preparation is as professional as you can get.”
Michigan and Minnesota were both named in an FBI bulletin for potential violence incited by the far-right Boogaloo Bois. Federal security and intelligence officials have warned of possible armed protests in all 50 state capitals.
Walz said it came as no surprise to him since President Trump had previously tweeted last Spring calling for his followers to “liberate Minnesota.”
But Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said that specific threat is dated intelligence from a December 29 memo. He said he was briefed Friday by the local office of the FBI and officials told him there were no local, credible or immediate threats to Minnesota.
The FBI briefing from late December informed decisions to boost capitol security on January 6, the day of the insurrection in Washington and when a group of local protestors held a “Storm The Capitol” rally in St. Paul.
“Since that time circumstances have changed and we are turning over every rock and looking under every bush to see if there is anything else out there,” Harrington said. “I want there not be any mistake—if you come to the Capitol with criminal intent on your mind, if you come to the Capitol to commit violent crimes, we will stop you.”
Department of Safety Commissioner John Harrington says there are “still not credible threats” at the MN state Capitol this weekend but warns “we will stop you” if anyone comes to the Capitol with the intent to commit violence.#mnleg @WCCO
— Caroline Cummings (@CaroRCummings) January 15, 2021READ MORE: Next In Line For Vaccine Will Be Minnesotans With Certain Underlying Conditions, Food Processing Workers
All of this extra security comes at a cost, which is why Gov. Walz is petitioning the legislature to add increased funding for capitol area security in his proposed budget that he will release later this month.
In a letter to capitol leaders, he asked them to take “swift action” and pass measures earlier in session, instead of waiting until the end.
“Making improvements to ensure safety on our Capitol Complex is of paramount importance,” the letter reads.
Walz called the bid for more funding “prudent” because he said it’s better to have enough people prepared to secure the capitol than too few officers. He is also looking ahead to continuing needs for increased security later this year.
“I’m not telling anyone here anything they don’t already know—there’s going to be some big events that come up this year in Minnesota and not least is the trial of George Floyd’s death,” Walz said. “And I think we’re starting to see these are complex operations. They’re expensive.”
Harrington said there hasn’t been discussion of implementing a curfew as of right now.
Due to security concerns, Minnesota’s federal courthouses will be closed from Sunday at 12 a.m. until Thursday at 5 a.m., the day after the inauguration.
Law enforcement urges Minnesotans that if they see anything suspicious, they should contact local police.
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