Skip to main content

DPS Commissioner: No credible threats to state Capitol, but ready if something arises

Local and state law enforcement officials have a plan in case a threat arises.

There is "no credible, local threat" in Minnesota ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20, but local and state law enforcement are prepared for anything that may happen, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said Friday.

Local and state law enforcement agencies, as well as the Minnesota National Guard, have been preparing for the potential of anti-government violence in St. Paul, including at the Minnesota State Capitol, in the days leading up to the inauguration in Washington, D.C.

"To all of those who have and will come to the Capitol, to speak their piece, we will be here to make sure that your voices can be heard," Harrington said at a Friday news conference with Gov. Tim Walz and other state and local officials about safety at the Capitol. "But I want there to not be any mistake, if you come to the Capitol with criminal intent on your mind, if you come to the Capitol to commit violent crimes, we will stop you. We will hold you accountable.

"There are still no credible threats to the Minnesota State Capitol," he added.

This comes after an FBI memo on Dec. 29, 2020, said there are "credible threats" that the Minnesota State Capitol is a target of the right-wing extremist group the "Boogaloo Bois" rally on Jan. 17. It was also reported that an FBI memo warned "armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols" between Jan. 16 and Jan. 20.

Harrington said the memo is now "pretty dated material," noting that doesn't mean there wasn't a threat back in December. That information from the FBI drove DPS' response to the "Storm the Capitol" rally at the state Capitol on Jan. 6, which was held at the same time as the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

Although the St. Paul rally was peaceful, the rhetoric used by some speakers was apparently so threatening that the Minnesota State Patrol – for the first time in history – went into the governor's residence and removed Walz's 14-year-old son to a safe place while he cried wondering where his dog was, Gov. Tim Walz said during the virtual event hosted by the Forum News Service on Monday. 

Harrington said since that late December memo, "circumstances have changed" and federal, state and local authorities have found "no credible, local threat" as of now. 

Despite that, Harrington said DPS has been working with the St. Paul Police Department, Minnesota State Patrol, the Minnesota National Guard, as well as the FBI and Homeland Security, to have up-to-the-minute information about threats the state may face and to develop a plan so they're prepared to protect the state Capitol and surrounding areas if a threat does arise.

“We have looked at all the different vulnerabilities around the Capitol and around possible attacks, and no matter how small or how large, we have taken the right steps to stop that from happening," Harrington said. "No detail has been overlooked. We have got a plan that is both robust, it is resilient.” 

People who are near the Capitol in the coming days will notice the chain-link fence from over the summer is still around the building (it's also closed to visitors due to COVID-19) and traffic patterns in the area have been shifted. There will also be more state troopers, as well as National Guard members and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officers, patrolling the Capitol Complex. 

The group that planned the "Storm the Capitol" rally in St. Paul on Jan. 6 does have two events planned at the state Capitol this weekend. A "Freedom Fest" on Saturday and a "Sunday Church Service" on Sunday.

Meanwhile, DPS is asking Minnesotans who don't have any planned activity or business at the state Capitol to consider visiting at another time. Because of this, the Minnesota History Center at the State Capitol Complex will be closed this weekend. Meanwhile, the United States Postal Service said Friday that it's temporarily removing four blue collection boxes "as a security measure to protect the mail and the public."

Harrington said law enforcement is also prepared to protect and respond to any potential secondary targets, such as other government buildings, noting the chatter has been related to anti-government violence.

Following threats to lawmakers and previous protests outside legislators' homes, Harrington said law enforcement "stands ready" to protect them at the Capitol or at their homes. DPS has been in contact with police chiefs across the state to be ready to respond to protests in their communities. 

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, Minnesota National Guard Adj. Gen. Shawn Manke, Minnesota State Patrol Chief Col. Matt Langer, St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell, and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter also spoke during Friday's news conference. 

Next Up

money hundred dollar bills

Chanhassen psychologist pleads guilty to $550K billing fraud

Charles Howard Jorenby, 57, pleaded guilty to one count of healthcare fraud in U.S. District Court late last month.

police lights squad car

Charges: Coon Rapids man had 25 pounds of cocaine from Mexico

Luis Javier Avila-Lopez, 38, was arrested after law enforcement seized the cocaine earlier this year.

Screen Shot 2022-12-04 at 9.16.52 AM

Responding to Twitter release, former Minnesota GOP candidate calls for 'bullets'

It was in response to a thread on Twitter concerning the social media giant's moderation efforts regarding political issues.


NWS: 'Safe to say' more active weather is ahead

Three rounds of light snow around Minnesota before more substantial precipitation becomes a possibility.


Hero dad who stopped carjacker who fled with his kids identified

A GoFundMe has been set up to support Derek Gotchie and his family following the incident.

Screen Shot 2022-12-03 at 4.35.18 PM

Watch: New London-Spicer wins 3A championship on incredible walk-off TD

New London-Spicer defeated the unbeaten Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in remarkable circumstances.


Suspect in woman's killing in Moorhead is arrested

James Kollie Jr. was arrested Friday evening.

Jennifer Carnahan

Former chair Jennifer Carnahan sues Minnesota GOP, which is suing her back

Carnahan stepped down under a cloud of controversy in August 2021.

Minneapolis Fire Department

One injured after leaping from burning vacant building in Minneapolis

Authorities say the building is known to be used by squatters.


Head-on crash leaves two drivers dead in southeastern Minnesota

The crash happened in Houston County just before 4 p.m. Friday.


storm the capitol rally st. paul minnesota state capitol

2 events approved for Minnesota State Capitol this weekend

Local, state and federal law enforcement say they're prepared after learning of credible threats of violence in Minnesota and elsewhere on Sunday.

Tim Walz

Walz to hold press conference on MN State Capitol safety concerns

This comes amid ongoing threats to state Capitols across the country.

state patrol at governor's residence jan 6 2020

MN House Republicans condemn violence in DC, rhetoric in St. Paul

"Those who made threats of violence at the rally in St. Paul should be investigated and held accountable," the letter states.

State Capitol.

DPS prepared for protests, potential violence ahead of Inauguration Day

Commissioner John Harrington says there "are few known active threats" to the Minnesota State Capitol.

mn state capitol january 17 2021

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.

State Capitol.

MN House votes to condemn insurrection and false election claims, 8 GOPers vote against

The resolution condemned violence at the U.S. and state capitols and declared support for 2020 election results.