ST. PAUL — A large security force — including the Minnesota National Guard — were prepared Sunday, Jan. 17, following previous reports of potential violence at the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul.
A prayer service was scheduled Sunday at the Capitol, organized by Becky Strohmeier from “Hold the Line.”
The rally, which had only a handful of attendees, was the second of two events organized by Strohmeier at the Capitol complex this weekend tied to false claims that the 2020 presidential election results were invalid. The event is a continuation of “Stop the Steal” protests at the Capitol held by organizers from “Hold the Line,” a group of people who are adherents to the false conspiracy that President-elect Joe Biden was not rightfully elected.
Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 7 million votes in the Nov. 3 election and dozens of court cases, along with multiple vote audits have confirmed that.
The potential for violence overshadowed the Saturday event following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol building that resulted in multiple injuries and deaths.
On Friday, Jan. 15, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said at a news conference that there were no credible threats this weekend, though Minnesota would take the proper precautions to secure the state Capitol building and other areas throughout the state. A bulletin from the FBI cited threats of violence at state capitol protests around the country this weekend, including in Minnesota and Michigan. Harrington said Friday that information was “pretty dated.”
Minneapolis State Patrol officials at the Capitol declined to say how long the larger security presence will continue at the Capitol complex. Roads leading to the Capitol building remained closed through weekend.
Matt Skalasky, from Shakopee, said he wasn’t part of the event Sunday and only came out Sunday to give coffee to law enforcement and National Guard members.
He said that he’s angry with the violence that he’s seen lately.
“My anger isn’t just directed at the left and Antifa, it’s also towards Trump supporters,” Skalasky said. “I condemn it.”
David Peck, from Minneapolis, showed up with a sign with an anti-Trump sign Sunday said he was there because it’s important that both sides are reflected “and not just Trumpers.”
Gov. Tim Walz activated the Minnesota National Guard for potential violence at protests in St. Paul, including Sunday, Jan. 17. The Guard has also been deployed to Washington, D.C., in anticipation of potential threats related to Inauguration Day, Wednesday, Jan. 20.