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caption: Police guard the Washington State Capitol on Monday, January 11, 2021, as a handful of protesters gathered on the opposite side of the fence on the first day of the legislative session in Olympia. 
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Police guard the Washington State Capitol on Monday, January 11, 2021, as a handful of protesters gathered on the opposite side of the fence on the first day of the legislative session in Olympia.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Washington Capitol turned into a secure fortress ahead of legislative session

State troopers brought in from all over Washington.

Seven hundred and fifty National Guard members at the ready.

And a fence surrounding the state Capitol.

That’s the scene in Olympia as the Legislature prepares to convene on Monday, along with a crowd of protesters outside wanting the fences to be taken down.

Governor Jay Inslee walked the fence Monday morning, thanking National Guard members for standing guard. One person was arrested by Washington State Patrol around 8 a.m. for using their RV to block the road into the capitol campus.

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At 11 a.m., protesters screamed curses at officers, calling them "Gestapo," as second person was taken into custody for attempting to walk through a secured entrance to the capitol.

Chris Loftis of the Washington State Patrol calls it a tragedy that the capitol has to be protected to this level.

“But a greater tragedy would be a repeat of what we saw Wednesday in the national capitol or even here at the governor’s gate,” he said.

That’s when a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol and, in Olympia, broke through the perimeter to the governor’s residence.

RELATED: Pro-Trump groups plan more rallies at Washington capitol

On Monday morning, KUOW's Casey Martin reported seeing some in the crowd outside the fence with weapons.

The security in Olympia follows threats to try to occupy the building, which is closed to the public because of Covid-19.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee called up the National Guard following the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. That same day in Olympia a group of pro-Trump supporters breached the perimeter fence that surrounds the governor’s residence. On Sunday, guard members stood watch on the governor’s lawn. Not far away more guard members held the line at the steps to the Capitol.

“Nobody likes to see fences around the people’s house,” Loftis said. A small demonstration at the Capitol drew a few dozen people on Sunday. Jessica Karraker of Ellensburg organized the event.

“We’re asking that they pass a bill that limits the governor’s powers and also pass a bill that will not allow for Covid-19 discrimination for those who choose not to take the vaccine.”

When one heavily armed man suggested trying to enter the Capitol, he was quickly shouted down by the mostly unarmed crowd.

“Not today man,” someone from the crowd said.

That moment happened as Republican state Representative Jim Walsh was speaking. Moments earlier, Walsh had criticized the fortress around the Capitol.

“I ask the governor, Governor Inslee takes down these gates,” Walsh said. The only other real tension was when a street preacher showed up and effectively drowned out the speakers.

Preacher Mike: “I voted for Donald Trump, but Donald Trump’s not my savior.”

The event also drew anti-maskers.

Speaker: “Mask don’t work.”

People warning of dangers related to the Covid vaccine.

Speaker: “The FDA does not know.”

And those who say COVID is a hoax.

Speaker: “There is no basis in epidemiology or public health.”

As the event at the Capitol wound down, a “Proud to be Antifascist” rally was getting underway at a nearby park. At one point a small group dressed in black made their way to the Capitol and the fence line where a few of them heckled the National Guard troops before departing to shouts of Antifa.

As the group left, a handful of citizens in tactical gear and carrying firearms watched from nearby.

Lawmakers will meet Monday to approve rules to then allow them to meet mostly remotely for the remainder of the 105-day session.