OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Pro-Trump supporters broke through a gate at the Washington state governor’s mansion Wednesday afternoon and dozens of people gathered on the lawn.
The crowd, some of whom were armed, touted repeated unfounded allegations of election fraud and it came the same day a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Via Twitter, the Washington State Patrol said authorities were responding and that Gov. Jay Inslee “and his family are in a safe location.” Authorities wouldn’t say exactly where the governor was. The crowd was cleared from the mansion area after about 30 minutes.
Earlier dozens of people had gathered at state Capitol, demanding a recount of the U.S presidential election and Washington’s gubernatorial election, which the Democrat Inslee won by more than 500,000 votes.
Inslee said Wednesday night in a video that he and his wife Trudi were doing just fine.
“On a day in our nation’s capital, where we were to effectuate the most important act of our democracy — the peaceful transfer of power — was forcefully interrupted by those who refuse to accept verdicts of the people, the courts, and the truth itself,” Inslee said. “Here in our capital on a day that was to be dedicated to preparing for the opening day of our legislative session, so that we could address our challenges, including the pandemic, that work was forcefully interrupted by similar acts of attempted intimidation.
Inslee said, “Those acts of intimidation will not succeed in any way, shape or form” and that work will continue to protect the health of Washingtonians.
A patrol spokesman later said that no arrests were made, but that investigations related to trespassing and the broken gate would occur and if it was determined that charges should be made, those would be passed on to prosecutors.
Sgt. Darren Wright said the determination to not make arrests in the moment stemmed in part from the calculus that, “If you make one arrest that could agitate the crowd and make things worse.”
A militia group has already said it has plans to occupy the Capitol when the Legislature meets to convene its 105-day legislative session, a sentiment that was expressed by several of those gathered outside the governor's residence.
The Capitol building will remain closed to the public and lobbyists due to the pandemic, and lawmakers will do their work through a mix of virtual meetings and on-site votes, but police are planning for people to attempt to enter the building when staff or others do.
Officials with the Washington State Patrol said that there will be a substantial law enforcement presence at the Capitol next week, and that there have been days of planning to ensure things go smoothly.
“We urge the public to remain calm in these troubled and troubling times,” Wright said. “We remind visitors that while your rights to free speech are honored and protected you do not have the right to commit illegal acts.