Spokane lawmakers weigh in on potential unrest in Olympia

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington state’s legislative building is surrounded by a fence, National Guard members and Washington State Patrol troopers as they prepare for potential unrest on Monday.

The day marks the opening legislative session in Olympia. The troopers are stationed at the Capitol in anticipation of protests from pro-Trump supporters. According to the Associated Press, a right-wing militia has encouraged members to occupy the Capitol when the Legislature meets. Up to 750 National Guard members were activated by Governor Jay Inslee last week.

“We welcome the first amendment but we cannot accept an insurgency that will prevent democracy from functioning from our state’s capitol and we will not allow that,” Gov. Jay Inslee told our Seattle affiliate, KOMO News. “Given the nature of the insurgency that has been precipitated by the president, all of us have to stand against that and be prepared

Governor Inslee said the law enforcement response also stems from the attack on our nation’s Capitol.

“People have the right to protest,” said Sen. Mike Padden, a legislator for Washington’s 4th District. “They have right to have grievances to the government and to their representatives, but it needs to be done in a non-violent manner.”

Padden reacted to the insurrection in our nation’s Capitol and said he’s “dismayed that security wasn’t better.”  The senator says he thinks WSP could’ve handled Capitol security rather than also calling in the National Guard.

“Is it necessary? I hope it is not necessary, but it’s kind of going the extra step, especially to call out the National Guard,” Padden said.

Sen. Marcus Riccelli, who serves Washington’s 3rd District, said it’s important “to protect the integrity of our democracy and the legislative process.”

“I think that it’s too important in the midst of COVID and the midst of so much going on,” Riccelli said. “We need to work on important issues and we can’t let disruption to the legislative process occur. Things are too important right now.”

He feels confident in the safety measures being taken and approves the protections being taken to protect people exercising their right to free speech.

“I think they need to do it in a non-violent manner,” he said.

Lawmakers will meet in person to approve rules to conduct sessions virtually due to COVID-19. After, a good chunk of legislators will conduct business remotely. The Capitol has been closed to the public because of the pandemic.

RELATED: WSP troopers, National Guard members deployed outside of State Capitol ahead of legislative session