Minnesota DPS taking extra precautions after FBI warns of possible armed nationwide protestsJan 12, 2021 07:12AM ● By Editor
In an internal bulletin distributed to law enforcement nationwide, the FBI warned of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitols, beginning later this week and extending through President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20, one official told the Associated Press.
In preparation for the possibility of protests, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) said it is taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of Minnesota's State Capitol and the community.
According to Minnesota DPS Director of Communications Bruce Gordon, the State Patrol has increased its presence around the capitol building "to respond to various threats and prevent unlawful entry into the building." Additional fencing has also been set up around the building since last summer.
"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," Gordon said in a statement. "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."
In a written statement, the FBI said, "While our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products, the FBI is supporting our state, local, and federal law enforcement partners with maintaining public safety in the communities we serve. Our efforts are focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals who are inciting violence and engaging in criminal activity. As we do in the normal course of business, we are gathering information to identify any potential threats and are sharing that information with our partners. The FBI respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. Our focus is not on peaceful protesters, but on those threatening their safety and the safety of other citizens with violence and destruction of property."
No specific protests have been scheduled locally as of Monday evening.
During the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol last week, a group of people gathered outside the Minnesota Capitol before moving to the Governor's residence. A second protest of about 100 people took place Saturday outside the State Capitol. Both protests remained peaceful and no damage or injuries were reported.
"Minnesota's State Capitol has been and continues to be a safe place to conduct the important work of our state," Gordan said in the statement. "While we support Minnesotans' First Amendment right to peacefully protest, anyone involved in illegal activity will be held accountable."
On Monday, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers authorized the state National Guard to assist Wisconsin's Capitol Police.
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