ST. PAUL — After violent supporters of President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, in an effort to stop Congress' certification of the 2020 election, Minnesota's state Capitol will see tighter security.
In a Thursday, Jan. 7, letter to lawmakers obtained by Forum News Service, Minnesota Dept. of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said immediate plans to keep the state Capitol secure include an increased presence of state troopers on the grounds, who will be assisted by Dept. of Natural Resources Conservation officers.
Harrington said there will also be increased security protocols inside the Capitol and connected buildings, which "may have an impact on the daily movement of legislators, staff, members of the media and others who have business to conduct in the Capitol complex."
The Minnesota Legislature is currently in session, a time when not only lawmakers and media, but lobbyists and constituents would typically be bustling about Capitol halls. That's not the case this year, with legislators conducting much business virtually and the Capitol closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic. A fence has surrounded the Capitol building since this summer's unrest in the Twin Cities.
While Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol 1,100 miles away, demonstrators in St. Paul protested outside of the Capitol and governor's mansion, also decrying the 2020 election results. Harrington wrote that the local demonstrations did not grow violent and there was no active attempt to storm the state Capitol, despite some demonstrators yelling that they wanted to.
While he said the Capitol remains safe, Harrington said protesters have also targeted or plan to target Minnesota elected officials, commissioners, constitutional officers and judges. In some instances, demonstrators have been seen outside of state officials' homes with firearms. He said DPS and tracking these activities and communicating with local law enforcement.
Harrington ultimately said, "words do matter," and "calls to action by elected leaders" can compromise the safety of the Capitol "in an instant."
"... I encourage you to carefully consider the effect of our rhetoric," he said. "As leaders in our state, I think it is up to all of us to call out language or activity that endorses or encourages illegal or destructive behavior. We simply cannot stand by — and certainly not participate — while some choose to instigate violence or ignore law and order in our state and nation."