National Guard

OLYMPIA — Security fencing has been installed around the Washington state Capitol and the National Guard will be on hand Monday as the Legislature convenes amid concerns armed groups might try to occupy the building, which is closed to the public due to the ongoing pandemic.

Some of Washington's lawmakers are returning at a time when authorities are reassessing security at state capitols across the country after the violence that occurred last week at the U.S. Capitol.

A right-wing militia had initially encouraged its members to occupy the Capitol when the Legislature meets to kick off its 105-day legislative session at noon Monday. On Wednesday, a group of people broke down a gate outside the governor’s mansion and made it to the porch and front yard. That breach came hours after the siege of the nation’s Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

While an organizer of the planned occupation in Olympia canceled the event, he acknowledged he did expect some people might show up to try to disrupt proceedings.

The Washington State Patrol, which oversees security of the Capitol campus, has ensured there will be a robust police presence to ensure the safety of lawmakers, staff and journalists who will be present. Gov. Jay Inslee activated 750 guard troops last week to help maintain order.

“As legislators begin their work in behalf of the people of the state of Washington, we must do whatever we can to ensure that they can do that work without fear, intimidation or harassment,” Inslee said on Friday. “The actions we saw in both Washington, D.C. and Olympia earlier (last week) were completely unacceptable and will not be repeated in our state capital again. There will be acres of areas for people to exercise their First Amendment rights on the Capitol Campus. There will be restricted access in certain areas that are open only to legislators and staff.”

Democratic Sen. Manka Dhingra said while she was concerned about the opening day of session on Monday, she said she had faith in law enforcement officials who have been working with the Legislature to address security concerns.

“I think we have to be cautious but I also think it is important that the state see their elected leaders do the job that they were elected to do in a safe way,” she said last week.

Lawmakers are meeting in person Monday largely to adopt rules that will allow them to meet virtually during the rest of the session. After that, in the Senate, regular floor votes will be conducted in a hybrid format, with a mix of senators present in the chamber and others participating remotely.

The House has decided to do the rest of its work done remotely.

Lawmakers’ agenda includes dealing with pressing issues related to the pandemic, such as support for struggling businesses and renters, and police reform.

(2) comments

GeeKnee

My son said that Trump’s election was not the problem, it was a symptom of the problem that already existed, namely, millions of people do not feel they have a voice in our country and they believe their leaders are working AGAINST them rather than for them. At some point, when our legislators are working behind fences, armed guards, and closed buildings, I hope they will pause to consider if they are really doing the work their constituents desire, or rather, imposing their own will against the people?

Macleod

Cowards...

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