State Capitols in Minnesota, Dakotas prepare for weekend protests
Supporters of President Donald Trump are organizing protests at state houses across the country in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. What are the laws in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota around Capitol carry?
ST. PAUL — After extremist supporters of President Donald Trump violently stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, additional demonstrations are planned at all 50 statehouses throughout the country in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
The FBI has found credible threats of violence in and around Minnesota’s state Capitol in the coming days, with right-wing extremists plotting armed demonstrations and expressing willingness to die for their cause, according to reporting by the Minneapolis Star Tribune . Ahead of the planned demonstrations, Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday, Jan. 13, activated the state’s National Guard to protect government buildings, elected officials and citizens from potential violence.
The upcoming demonstrations in Minnesota come on the heels of a “Storm the Capitol” rally in St. Paul on Jan. 6, coinciding with the U.S. Capitol riot. Several state lawmakers were present at the demonstration, and Walz and his family had to evacuate from the governor’s mansion for the first time in state history due to threats of violence.
To the west, North Dakota’s Capitol security director Sgt. Tim Coughlin told Forum News Service on Wednesday, Jan. 13, that there are "contingency plans in place" for policing a protest in Bismarck if one occurs, but he said he has no knowledge of any statehouse demonstrations planned.
In South Dakota, a pro-Trump Christian nationalist group is planning a protest at the statehouse in Pierre on Sunday, Jan. 17. The group, known as Jericho March, has called for overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election. State officials have not responded to Forum News Service’s questions about policing the planned protest.
Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota’s state legislatures are currently in session. In Minnesota, the state Capitol is closed to visitors and many legislators are conducting business remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to state leaders, lawmakers have been receiving threats, including at their home addresses.
Ahead of the impending protests, these are the state laws regarding carrying firearms on state Capitol grounds in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Visitors to and workers at Minnesota’s Capitol complex can carry firearms if they have a valid state permit , and they do not need to notify security ahead of time. However, very few people are currently allowed in the Capitol building currently due to the pandemic and safety measures taken over the past several months. A fence has surrounded the Capitol since this summer’s civil unrest in the Twin Cities.
Firearms are not permitted on North Dakota's Capitol grounds in Bismarck, except for law enforcement officers and military personnel. Legally owned guns are allowed to be stowed in locked cars in the parking lot.
Those who hold enhanced concealed carry permits in South Dakota may carry a concealed pistol into the Capitol if they provide advanced notice to Capitol security. Concealed pistols are not allowed into the governor’s personal office or the state’s Supreme Court chambers.
Forum News Service reporters Jeremy Turley, Christopher Vondracek and Jeremy Fugleberg contributed to this report.