OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee has activated 750 members of the Washington National Guard to be in Olympia for next week’s start of the legislative session in preparation for large protests.
Safety concerns for Monday’s legislative opening arose this week after a pro-Trump mob in Washington, D.C. stormed the U.S. Capitol and protesters in Olympia hopped the fence of the governor’s mansion.
“We are committed to having security so legislators can function,” Inslee said in an Associated Press Legislative Preview on Thursday. “We will provide a secure environment.”
Security will be tight for the Legislature’s opening day ceremonies. The 750 members of the National Guard will join Washington State Patrol and local law enforcement in assisting the Capitol Campus security on Monday. Crews spent Friday putting up fencing along the Capitol Campus, delineating areas with restricted access for legislators and staff. Protests will be allowed, but only on portions of the campus.
“Any illegal intrusion of the Capitol, state buildings or restricted areas will not be tolerated and strictly enforced,” Inslee said in a statement Friday.
On Thursday, legislators said they were confident that Monday would be safe, but they needed to continue to do their jobs, which include meeting for the first day of the session in person.
Most of the legislative session will be virtual this year, given public health protocols due to COVID-19. However, the first day requires legislators to meet in person to vote on rules that allow the rest of the session to be virtual.
“We have to be able to do our business and not be intimidated and scared,” Democrat Sen. Manka Dhingra, of Redmond, said Thursday.
Inslee added, in light of the most recent insurrection activity, “the state cannot tolerate any actions that could result in harm, mayhem or interruption of function of democratic institutions.”
He said he hopes for peaceful actions, but if that doesn’t happen, “we will be prepared.”
Laurel Demkovich's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.
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