State beefs up security in Olympia for the start of the 2021 legislative session

A day before state lawmakers convene for the 2021 legislative session, Washington State Patrol (WSP) and the National Guard were called in for watch at the Washington State Capitol Building.

Governor Jay Inslee activated up to 750 members of the National Guard, he says, for two reasons: following the attack on the U.S. Capitol Building last Wednesday and after some local intelligence was gathered about plans to take over the State Capitol Building.

"We’re just very hopeful that people are realizing that democracy really has been under assault recently in our nation’s capital, and protest is one thing and insurgency is another," said Gov. Inslee. "We welcome the First Amendment, but we cannot accept an insurgency from functioning here in our state capital and we will not allow that, and that’s why these people are here."

A fence separates the restricted area that’s only open to state legislators and staff. Due to Covid-19, Chris Loftis, who is the Director of Communications at WSP, said access to the Capitol building is limited and hasn’t been open to the public.

"We had some folks who decided, groups that said, that was unfair and they were going to overrun and overtake the Statehouse," said Loftis. "We’re just not going to allow that."

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Inslee said demonstrators are allowed in the acres of open space on the Capitol campus, but they will be prevented from gaining access to restricted areas and interfering with legislative business.

Both Inslee and Loftis are hopeful the beefed up security turns out to be an overreaction, but law enforcement is preparing for potential conflict.