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Washington Legislature convenes under tight security

Washington Legislature convenes under tight security

Members of the Washington National Guard stand at a fence surrounding the Capitol in anticipation of protests Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Olympia, Wash. According to organizers, some protesters are unhappy the Legislature will meeting virtually and in sessions not open to the public, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, during the 2021 session which opens Monday. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee activated members of the National Guard this week to work with the Washington State Patrol to protect the Capitol campus.

Ted S. Warren Associated Press


Security fencing has been installed around the Washington state Capitol and National Guard members were present Monday as the Legislature was set to convene amid concerns that armed groups might try to occupy the building, which is closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some of Washington’s lawmakers are returning as authorities reassess security at state capitols across the country after the violence that occurred last week at the U.S. Capitol.

RACHEL LA CORTE and GENE JOHNSON Associated Press


A member of the Washington National Guard stands at a fence surrounding the Capitol in anticipation of protests Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Olympia, Wash. According to organizers, some protesters are unhappy the Legislature will meeting virtually and in sessions not open to the public, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, during the 2021 session which opens Monday. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee activated members of the National Guard this week to work with the Washington State Patrol to protect the Capitol campus.

Ted S. Warren Associated Press


A right-wing militia initially encouraged its members to occupy the Capitol as the Legislature starts its 105-day legislative session at noon. Last 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.

RACHEL LA CORTE and GENE JOHNSON Associated Press


In this Jan. 6, 2021 photo, protesters square off with law enforcement officers on the front porch of the Governor’s Mansion after a group of people got through a perimeter fence at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Statehouses where Trump loyalists have rallied since the Nov. 3 election are heightening security after the storming of the U.S. Capitol this week. Police agencies in a number of states are monitoring threats of violence as legislatures return to session and as the nation prepares for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Ted S. Warren Associated Press


While an organizer of the planned occupation in Olympia canceled Monday’s event, he said he expected some people might show up to try to disrupt proceedings. Early Monday, the Washington State Patrol said one person had been arrested at the Capitol Campus — a woman who used a recreational vehicle to block a roadway and refused to comply with orders to move.

RACHEL LA CORTE and GENE JOHNSON Associated Press


An armed protester stands outside the Capitol Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Olympia, Wash. According to organizers, some protesters are unhappy the Legislature will meeting virtually and in sessions not open to the public, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, during the 2021 session which opens Monday. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee activated members of the National Guard this week to work with the Washington State Patrol to protect the Capitol campus.

Ted S. Warren Associated Press


The State Patrol, which oversees security of the Capitol campus, has said there will be a robust police presence to ensure the safety of lawmakers, staff and journalists. Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, activated 750 National Guard members last week to help maintain order. Democratic Sen. Manka Dhingra expressed concern about the opening day of the session but said said she had faith in law enforcement officials who have worked 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 largely to adopt rules that will allow them to meet virtually for the rest of the session.

RACHEL LA CORTE and GENE JOHNSON Associated Press


The Senate Chamber sits empty in advance of legislators convening later Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington state’s Legislature will open under a large security presence because of concerns about efforts by armed groups who might try to disrupt the proceedings or occupy the Capitol, which is closed to the public due to the ongoing pandemic.

Ted S. Warren Associated Press


After that, regular Senate 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. The lawmakers’ agenda includes dealing with issues related to the pandemic — such as support for struggling businesses and renters, and police reform.

RACHEL LA CORTE and GENE JOHNSON Associated Press


Members of the Washington National Guard stand near a fence surrounding the Capitol in anticipation of protests Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Olympia, Wash. According to organizers, some protesters are unhappy the Legislature will meeting virtually and in sessions not open to the public, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, during the 2021 session which opens Monday. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee activated members of the National Guard this week to work with the Washington State Patrol to protect the Capitol campus.

Ted S. Warren Associated Press


Senators Joe Nguyen, right, D-White Center, Emily Randall, center, D-Bremerton, and Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, sit socially distanced in the Senate Chambers Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington state’s Legislature will open Monday under a large security presence because of concerns about efforts by armed groups who might try to disrupt the proceedings or occupy the Capitol, which is closed to the public due to the ongoing pandemic.

Ted S. Warren Associated Press


Chris Loftis, Washington State Patrol spokesman, explains security measures around the Capitol Campus for the opening of the 2021 Legislature, which include chain-link fencing around the Legislative Building, adding “we want this taken down as soon as we can.”

Jim Camden The Spokesman-Review


Kelly Stewart, of Vancouver, said she drove to Olympia Monday to see for herself the barriers to the public from attending the opening of the session. “I think it’s egregious,” she said, “Everybody should be here.” Being able to watch all legislative activity on TVW or online isn’t the same as watching it in person, although Stewart said she’d never attended a live session of the Legislature in the past. “Before this year, I never really got involved in politics,” she said.

Jim Camden The Spokesman-Review

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