Tommy Wiita & Callan Gray
Updated: January 13, 2021 10:19 PM
Created: January 13, 2021 01:03 PM
Monday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz activated the National Guard to assist law enforcement in St. Paul after reports of threats made against multiple state capitols.
"We will always support Minnesotans' First Amendment rights to peacefully protest, but anyone involved in violent, illegal activity will be held accountable," Walz said. "We are tracking reports and monitoring the situation closely to enhance our response and change tactics as needed."
Guard members will work with the Minnesota State Patrol and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, as well as local law enforcement.
"Our goal is to keep the peace, ensure public safety, and allow for peaceful demonstration," Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke, Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General, said.
The 257th military police company based in Monticello could be on duty as soon as this weekend.
The Governor's office also said the state patrol has increased its presence at the Capitol to respond to different threats.
"What I can assure Minnesotans is there's high collaboration among law enforcement," Walz said. "We will do all we can to ensure people's rights to peacefully protest and disagree but to stop that line where it becomes destructive or dangerous."
The decision comes just days after ABC News obtained an FBI memo warning of armed protests at all 50 state capitols and the U.S. Capitol.
"The FBI warning targeted two states in particular, Minnesota and Michigan," Walz said. "The only publicly stated targets at this time are the state Capitol and the Governor's residence but […] our police here are well-equipped and ready."
Police Chief Todd Axtell posted on the St. Paul Police Department's Facebook page Wednesday that there are more than a dozen protests, rallies and demonstrations planned over the next seven days in the community.
"I want you to know that your police officers will be there for all of them — ready to keep people safe and make them feel safe," Axtell wrote.
He listed several ways the department is working to keep residents safe, including "monitoring information channels" and increasing their presence in the city, "especially near events" over the next week.
Following the pro-Trump insurrection that occurred in Washington, D.C., the governor has been calling for calm and civility.
"Heated political debate and differences are foundational to who we are but we as a nation know there is a line that can't be crossed," Walz said.
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