Department of Public Safety to Minnesota legislators: ‘Calls to action by elected leaders can and have had substantial consequences’

    Demonstrators outside the governor's residence in St. Paul. Photo by Ricardo Lopez/Minnesota Reformer.

    The commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety wrote a letter to state lawmakers Thursday reassuring them that the State Capitol remains a safe environment while offering a subtle warning not to incite violence.

    “Calls to action by elected leaders can and have had substantial consequences,” Commissioner John Harrington wrote, likely referring to the inciteful words uttered by President Donald Trump just moments before his followers attacked the legislative branch of government Wednesday, ransacking the United States Capitol and leading to the death of a police officer and four others.

    Harrington’s letter arrived just a day after Republican lawmakers — including Reps. Mary Franson, Eric Lucero, Glenn Gruenhagen, Steve Drazkowski and Susan Akland — appeared at a rally at the State Capitol to protest the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election. Also appearing at the rally, according to the Star Tribune, were members of a state chapter of the Three Percenters Original group, as well as people wearing the garb popular with the Boogaloo Bois. Both are known to espouse violence to achieve political goals.

    The Star Tribune also reported that that Alley Waterbury, a local Republican Party official from Woodbury who served as emcee, threatened violence: “My God you guys, we are going to fight, we are going to go down, there’s going to be casualties. I’ll be the first casualty, I do not care.”

    Some of the demonstrators then drove to the Summit Avenue residence of Gov. Tim Walz.

    Harrington also said they are monitoring the practice of armed demonstrators appearing at the homes of lawmakers, judges and constitutional officers — and expect it to continue.

    “Last weekend, we saw demonstrators appear at the homes of state representatives in different parts of the state. Some of these protesters were seen carrying handguns and long guns as they stood outside the residences. Groups have also communicated they plan to begin protesting local judges as well as state constitutional officers and state legislators,” Harrington wrote.

    Harrington said the Department of Public Safety, with the help of the Department of Natural Resources, will continue an increased security presence around the State Capitol.

    J. Patrick Coolican
    J. Patrick Coolican is Editor-in-Chief of Minnesota Reformer. Previously, he was a Capitol reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for five years, after a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan and time at the Las Vegas Sun, Seattle Times and a few other stops along the way. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and toddler son.