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Amid huge police presence, weekend rallies at state Capitol were tiny and peaceful

Officials across the U.S. remain on alert for possible violence ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.
A protester holding a flag outside the Minnesota State Capitol on Sunday, Jan. 17.

A protester holding a flag outside the Minnesota State Capitol on Sunday, Jan. 17.

Law enforcement and journalists largely outnumbered rallygoers at the Minnesota State Capitol over the weekend as officials across the United States remain on alert for possible violence ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20. 

Although the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said there were no credible, local threats, it was prepared if anything was to happen and encouraged people to stay away from the Capitol.

The increased law enforcement presence will continue at least through Wednesday. 

"Increased security measures will continue at least through the presidential inauguration," Bruce Gordon, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety (DPS), told the Star Tribune on Sunday.

The Capitol remains fenced off (it's been that way since the protests and riots that followed George Floyd's death) and roads around the Capitol Complex in St. Paul were closed. About 100 Minnesota State Patrol troopers, Minnesota National Guard members and other law enforcement ringed the state Capitol Saturday and Sunday to thwart any potential violence amid two planned events there over the weekend

A "Freedom Fest" was held on Saturday, which according to media reports drew a dozen or two people, and an invite-only "Sunday Church Service," which fewer people attended.

“We just thought it was good to bring God here today,” Becky Strohmeier of Hold The Line Minnesota, which organized the events, told the Pioneer Press on Sunday. “Basically our country is going crazy right now, evil is pretty much just running rampant, and it’s just getting worse by the day.”

Hold The Line Minnesota, which organized the weekend events, is the same group that held the local "Storm the Capitol" rally on Jan. 6, which featured speakers calling for violence and using threatening rhetoric and is now under investigation by state law enforcement, as well as peaceful "Stop the Steal" rallies every Saturday since President Donald Trump lost the election.

On Saturday, Strohmeier told the Pioneer Press they were there, in part, to clear their reputation. 

Both events were peaceful and didn't feature any speakers, only people mingling and chatting with each other, some holding flags and signs in support of Trump and false claims that he didn't lose the election.

No one was arrested at the Capitol, KARE 11 reports.

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The scene in St. Paul was similar to what played out at other state Capitols around the country following an FBI memo in late December that warned of potential violence at all 50 state capitols ahead of Biden's inauguration, USA Today reports. The publication does note that some states, including Michigan and Ohio, saw larger groups show up at their capitols.  

Bring Me The News has reached out to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for comment on how the weekend went. 

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