After FBI reports threats, Gov. Walz says state is prepared to do what it takes to keep its Capitol safe

"We stand ready to protect the people's house," said Police Commissioner Harrington.
Minnesota Gov Tim Walz declares state of emergency
Photo credit Getty Images

After federal authorities said credible threats of violence targeted the Minnesota State Capitol this weekend, Gov. Tim Walz held a press conference outlining plans to bolster security while saying he's still trying to understand the "horrific events that happened Wednesday."

Looking forward, anyone who comes to the Minnesota Capitol with violence on their mind will be stopped, Police Commissioner John Harrington said, adding the state has one of the best plans in place that he's ever been party to. "There has been nothing left undone to keep the Capitol safe," he said.

Staying safe while understanding where we go next -- as a state and a country -- is the order of the day, according a Walz, a history teacher by trade, adding that those who carried out the insurrection need to be held accountable. And he wanted to be very clear that threats in Minnesota are being taken seriously.

He added, getting fiery, that Minnesotans have the constitutional right to carry firearms, but protests at the Capitol is not a place where guns belong. "In the middle of a heated debate ... to carry that thing is a reckless manner, is meant to intimidate." He compared carrying a gun to a Capitol protest to carrying a running chainsaw into McDonalds -- it just doesn't belong.

While investigators unspool what exactly happened in Washington and who's planning further insurrection, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said the state is alert and prepared, but not panicking.

Shawn Manke of the Minnesota National Guard announced his troops will be on hand in the Capitol, in St. Paul, and will also support the inauguration in DC, sending 800 guardsmen to DC to help keep the peace.

Locally, they're reacting to an FBI report that highlights Capitols in Michigan, where the governor was the target of a kidnapping plot, and Minnesota as potential targets for attack. The report said followers of the Boogaloo Boys have scouted out the Minnesota State Capitol to identify "defensible positions and escape points."

Since that time, there have been no new credible local threats and the Department of Homeland Security has not found any credible local threats, Harrington said.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said he's still wondering how people were able to breach the Capitol building with the confederate flag in hand -- a symbol of hate. But in Minnesota, he said he has faith that law enforcement is prepared to keep the Capitol safe while protecting the civil rights of people to gather peacefully.

"We're prepared to secure out state Capitol," Carter said, adding that neighborhoods surrounding the building are very diverse and he "has the highest level of confidence in our police chief ... That we will meet the challenges of this moment.

Harrington echoed that, saying he takes the right to keep the peace seriously, while still respecting civil rights. A robust, detailed protection plan is in place, he said.

"We stand today ready to protect the constitution and the law of the land that says that we have had and continue to have a peaceful transition of power," Harrington said. "We stand ready to protect the people's house. We stand ready to protect the people's representatives ... and we stand ready to protect our community."

For his part, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said while there are no credible and immediate threats against the city, they are "actively preparing to keep the City safe."

"I am in regular contact with Mayor Carter and our team is in close touch with the Walz administration," he added in a Facebook post. "Chief Arradondo is providing regular updates to City leadership, and our Strategic Information Team is working around the clock to monitor intelligence and inform our planning. We will continue coordinating throughout the upcoming week."

Frey said there are a handful of planned protests and demonstrations across the Twin Cities, and emergency responders stand ready with the goal of protecting first amendment rights.

"We’ve heard your concerns loud and clear, and we want you to know we’re prepared should any action be warranted," Frey said, adding that anyone who sees suspicious activity should reach out to the MPD tip line at 612-692-8477.