'Storm the Capitol' Rally Organizer Has Two Further Protests Approved in Minnesota

Two protests led by an organizer behind the "Storm the Capitol" rally outside the Minnesota State Capitol last Wednesday have been approved to take place this weekend.

The Minnesota State Department of Administration granted permits for the event titled "Freedom Fest" on Saturday, and for the "Church Service" event on Sunday, according to records obtained by the Minnesota newspaper, the Star Tribune.

Applications for both permits were made by Becky Strohmeier, from Hold The Line, MN, who helped organize last week's "Storm the Capitol" rally. That saw around 500 people gather outside the state capitol, which was fenced off and guarded by state troopers, as they cheered the storming of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Alley Waterbury, a local Republican Party leader from Woodbury who emceed the rally, said at the event last Wednesday: "My God you guys, we are going to fight, we are going to go down, there's going to be casualties. I'll be the first casualty, I do not care."

That same day, Strohmeier said the rally was "not about taking up arms and fighting people actually" but "fighting your legislature, fighting at the ballot box."

"The battle is only just beginning. We are going to fight however we need to fight, and we have a lot of people with different talents," she said at the time.

Around 150 people are expected to attend Saturday's protest, taking place outside the state capitol in St. Paul from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. local time. Sunday's event, described to be a "small group gathering to pray for our elected officials" held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. local time, is expected to involve about 20 people, according to the permit application.

Strohmeier described the agenda for Saturday's event as "gathering, talking, praying, potentially singing if things are really going well." In an email to the Star Tribune on Wednesday, she said Sunday's protest would be "invite only."

"In an effort to curb any sort of violent activity, I reserved a permit to host a few friends for a Church service in front of the Capitol on Sunday.

"That being said, it's an invite only, lawfully permitted event and anyone trying to disturb that will be dealt with according to State Patrol policy," Strohmeier added.

A post on the Facebook page of Hold The Line, MN also warned: "DO NOT attend ANY event at the State Capitol on SUNDAY 1/17! This is an infiltration and set up tactic used to incite violence and blame us.

"DO NOT GO TO THE CAPITOL ON SUNDAY! We WILL be there for our usual SATURDAY event, which has without a doubt, always been peaceful and fun!

"Also, please take time to note the difference between FAKE EVENT flyers and REAL EVENT flyers. Fake ones have a vague, dark, "anarchist" vibe. If you ever see a flyer circulating for the MN State Capitol PLEASE send it to me immediately! DO NOT GO TO ST. PAUL ON SUNDAY!," the post said.

On Wednesday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz activated the Minnesota National Guard to ramp up security in the wake of last week's "Storm the Capitol" rally.

"Recent reports of planned armed protests around the country and at our State Capitol must be met with a strong and unequivocal response," Walz noted in his executive order.

The latest measure comes as federal authorities warned of the potential threat of violence related to events planned for Sunday in Michigan and Minnesota, according to a report by the Minnesota division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) obtained by Yahoo News.

The December 29, 2020 report stated "some followers indicated willingness to commit violence in support of their ideology, created contingency plans in the event violence occurred at the events, and identified law enforcement security measures and possible countermeasures," and described evidence of credible threats relating to the protests planned for Sunday at the Capitol buildings in Michigan and Minnesota.

The report, based on information from "collaborative sources," warned about rallies that the far-right Boogaloo movement plans to hold across the country on Sunday.

Minnesota State Patrol National Guard Capitol 2020
Minnesota State Patrol and National Guard soldiers pictured outside the Minnesota State Capitol building in St. Paul on October 8, 2020. More protests are expected to take place outside the state capitol this weekend. Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images