OLYMPIA, Wash. - State lawmakers returned to Olympia today to the largest security presence in history.
It’s a direct response to the attack on the U.S. Capitol building last week and it follows a new warning from the FBI.
The FBI said starting this week and running through a least Joe Biden's inauguration, armed protests are planned at all 50 state capitols. It also said that some groups are planning to "storm" state, local, and federal courthouses.
So far in Olympia officials made two arrests, but no major conflicts have occurred.
A 30-year-old Everett man, Thomas Hughes, was arrested at the Capitol after he tried to enter the building.
The Washington State Patrol said he's also being charged, likely for criminal trespass, for breaching the gate at the governor's mansion last week in Olympia, joining protesters who ended up on Governor Jay Inslee's front porch.
WSP said it will do what it necessary to keep the seige that happened at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. from happening in Olympia.
"Washington State Patrol has been charged with protecting the legislative building and the legislators inside while they conduct their business," said WSP Sgt. Darren Wright.
At the state Capitol today, a few dozen protesters showed up, demanding access to the building and the legislative process. Much of the discussion over bills this year will take place remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions. People will have the ability to testify online.
"All of this is unconstitutional," said protester Roger Roots. "When government is acting in secret away from the watchful eyes of the people."
Kelli Stewart said she drove more than two hours from Vancouver, Washington to protest.
"What our governor has done has turned us into essentially a mob rules, every time he turns and he says I’m going to use force to keep you out of your building," Stewart said.
They were met by two fences creating a dual perimeter around the statehouse. It was also protected by dozens of members of the state patrol and up to 750 members of the Washington National Guard.
Some members of the guard were armed this time. Some protesters noted, there were not armed during the protests of police brutality in Seattle last summer.
"We base our decisions to arm our men and women based on the level of threat that they face, They have the equipment to protect protect not only protect property, but their lives and others," said Karina Shagren, communications director at the Washington Military Department.
The protesters also their own weapons. We saw batons and rifles.
James Harris from Eastern Washington had a sword strapped to his waist.
"Because I can and it’s a constitutional carry state," Harris said.
"The mere act of carrying a weapon, it could be a bat, it could be a rifle, it could be anything, it’s whether that weapon is brandished and used in a threatening manner that concerns us," Sgt. Wright said.
WSP said the roads will stay blocked around the Capitol building with the fencing surrounding it, and the National Guard will be in place until it's safe.