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Trump Supporters Break Fence At Washington Governor's Residence, Demand Inslee Be Arrested

Mob-of-protesters-at-Washington-Governors-Mansion-010620-CREDIT-Ted-S-Warren-AP.jpeg
Mob-of-protesters-at-Washington-Governors-Mansion-010620-CREDIT-Ted-S-Warren-AP.jpeg

Protesters stand outside the Washington Governor’s Mansion after getting through a perimeter fence, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia following a protest against the counting of electoral votes in Washington, DC, affirming President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. The area was eventually cleared by police. CREDIT: Ted S. Warren/AP

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BY AP STAFF

Pro-Trump protesters 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 pro-Trump protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Via Twitter, the 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.

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.”

Supporters of President Trump, including those with guns and a bat, stand outside the Governor’s Mansion after breaching a perimeter fence, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. CREDIT: Ted S. Warren/AP

Northwest News Network correspondent Tom Banse was also at the scene, reporting:

“The crowd chanted, ‘Whose house, our house,’ when they got to the front door, but didn’t enter. Reinforcements of state troopers and sheriff’s deputies soon arrived to escort the trespassers out. No one was arrested in order to avoid inciting the crowd, a sergeant said.

“On the way out, the chanting switched to ‘Arrest Jay Inslee.’ The governor and first lady were home when the gate was breached, according to Inslee’s staff. The state patrol later tweeted the governor and his family were “in a safe location,” but wouldn’t say if that entailed a move.”

Northwest News Network Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins reported from the governor’s mansion Wednesday afternoon:

“It’s a much calmer scene now outside the governor’s residence. The protesters have dispersed but there is a very large contingent of state troopers, local police sheriff’s deputies and police officers. Many of the officers are in tactical gear and they’ve created a phalanx, blocking the entrance, the driveway to the residence. We’re told the governor and first lady were in the residence at the time the perimeter was breached. They have been taken to a safe location we’re told.”

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.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press.  Additional reporting from public media correspondents Austin Jenkins and Tom Banse was used in this story.

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Copyright 2021 Northwest Public Broadcasting