A protest by supporters of then-President Donald Trump on the Minnesota State Capitol grounds and outside Gov. Tim Walz's home on Jan. 6, the same day as a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, did not include any criminal activity, the state Department of Public Safety said Wednesday.
The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension reviewed video and other information gathered by the State Patrol, which oversees Capitol security, and interviewed one participant regarding comments made at the event, the DPS said in a news release. The BCA had looked at whether speakers and organizers of the rally issued terroristic threats or committed other crimes.
The BCA reviewed the information with the Ramsey County Attorney's Office, which determined that no actions or speech rose to the level of criminal activity.
Leaders of Hold the Line MN, the group that organized the Storm the Capitol rally, posted "You don't say … " on its Facebook page after the DPS released the finding.
In a statement later, group leader Becky Strohmeier blasted suspicions about the gathering.
"Publicly labeling us as violent domestic terrorists with no legal or factual evidence is dangerous to the safety of innocent Minnesotans who peacefully exercised their first amendment right on January 6th in St. Paul," she wrote in an e-mail. "After listening to false accusations and slander from local media and Democrat officials … I can only hope their apologies are just as loud as their divisive statements were. If they truly want the unity they speak of, they will reflect on the inflammatory statements made about their fellow Minnesotans and strive to provide better leadership in the future."
The Jan. 6 rally drew about 500 demonstrators, mostly ardent Trump supporters, who repeated disproved allegations that the election was stolen from the former president in November.
More than two hours of video and audio footage captured by the Star Tribune from the Jan. 6 rally documented how activists spoke in increasingly dark terms about the need to pressure DFLer Walz to end his emergency COVID-19 orders and for federal lawmakers to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, had sharply criticized six GOP legislators who took part in the rally.
While authorities concluded the rally did not cross the line into criminal activity, "false, misleading, and hateful speech has consequences," she said in a statement Wednesday. "It creates an environment of fear and division, can cause harm to individuals targeted by such speech, and it makes it more difficult for us to work together and solve problems."
During the protest, state troopers whisked the governor's teenage son to safety. Soon after, Walz called up members of the Minnesota National Guard after the FBI reported threats of armed protests at capitols across the country in the run-up to President Joe Biden's inauguration.
Staff writers Baird Helgeson and Stephen Montemayor contributed to this report.