The Washington National Guard will start to wind down security at the state Capitol in Olympia — orders put in place following threats related to President Joe Biden’s inauguration — this weekend, though the state will keep “long-term” safety measures in place, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday.
The Washington State Patrol will maintain an increased presence around the Capitol building and near the restricted area on West Campus, according to a statement from Inslee’s office. The state’s National Guard will clear out on Friday.
“The Washington State Patrol and the Guard have served our state well in these dangerous and unprecedented times. … While this current mission will be demobilized over the weekend, we are taking steps to ensure the long-term safety and security of the people who work doing the people’s business in Olympia,” Inslee said in the statement.
State Patrol Chief John Batiste thanked the National Guard in the statement, adding the state has “entered a new security environment that will require additional preparation and enhanced safety measures going forward.”
“Our agency will be vigilant in that work,” he said.
The increased security at the Capitol came as a result of both the insurrection in Washington, D.C., and the events at the governor’s mansion on Jan. 6, when dozens of people made their way past a security gate for a half-hour protest. A few days after the D.C. riot, Inslee activated the Guard troops, anticipating demonstrations at the Capitol when the new legislative session began on Jan. 11.
The governor authorized up to 750 Guard members in preparation for the start of the session, which drew a small group of right-wing protesters outside the fenced-off Capitol. Since then, including on Inauguration Day, the area has stayed fairly quiet.