Politics and Government

FBI warns of possible 'Boogaloo' violence at MN Capitol this weekend

Law enforcement stands outside a state capitol.
Minnesota state troopers stand guard outside the State Capitol as supporters of President Donald Trump attend a rally on Jan. 6. State officials say they are preparing for potential unrest, after disclosure of an FBI memo that indicates right-wing extremists may be planning more violence in the wake of the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News file

Updated 4:29 p.m.

The FBI says members of a far-right group that wants to foment a second civil war scouted out the Minnesota State Capitol ahead of a pro-Trump rally planned for this weekend.

A memo to law enforcement from the FBI's Minneapolis field office says that "a few Minnesota-based followers of the Boogaloo movement" identified police sniper locations and said buildings with snipers would "need to be blown up" to protect Boogaloo fighters.

The Dec. 29 memo, first obtained by Yahoo News, says the group did not plot a specific attack, but would use violence if a fight broke out.

A spokesperson for the FBI in Minneapolis says the bureau doesn't comment on its internal discussions, but agents are identifying potential threats and are sharing the information with other agencies.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison told CNN Tuesday morning that such threats would not go unanswered.

“People who would engage in such lawless behavior need to know that there will be a response and that we're not going to cower in the corner we're gonna step up and hold them accountable,” he said.

Guard set to protect Minnesota Capitol

Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he plans to deploy the Minnesota National Guard to protect against potential threats to the state Capitol ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

Walz said he plans a full announcement on Wednesday, but that troops will be activated for several days.

The governor said he spoke earlier Tuesday with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer about the FBI memo warning of threats to the state capitols this weekend. He said he also got a briefing from law enforcement officials.

The Guard and other law enforcement officers won’t stop the exercise of free speech around the Capitol but will ensure a safe environment, Walz added.

“You can probably anticipate that you will see a presence of folks protecting folks’ First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble and protest,” he said. “I would make the case that you have got a pretty weak argument if you have to bring a gun to do it.”

Walz also said Tuesday that Minnesota lawmakers will soon have access to a dedicated phone line to report threats to their physical safety.

“Legislators here, these are moms and dads and business owners and teachers and nurses and doctors who come to the Capitol to do the people’s work a couple months out of the year,” the governor said. “These people are posting their names and addresses online and are threatening to go to their houses. So, they are rightfully concerned.”

On Monday, Walz revealed that state troopers entered the living quarters of the the governor’s residence in St. Paul this weekend to evacuate his 14-year-old son as a pro-Trump crowd gathered outside.

Two men wearing orange jumpsuits
Michael Solomon, of New Brighton (left) and Benjamin Teeter, of Hampstead, N.C. (right).
Courtesy of Sherburne County

In December, a member of the Boogaloo Bois who participated in protests that followed the police killing of George Floyd pleaded guilty to terrorism charges.

Benjamin Ryan Teeter, 22, of Hampstead, N.C., admitted that he tried to sell gun silencers to an FBI informant who Teeter thought was a member of Hamas.

Michael Robert Solomon, 30, of New Brighton, Minn., is also charged in the case, and is expected to plead guilty in March. Federal prosecutors say Solomon and Teeter offered to work as mercenaries for Hamas in order to fund Boogaloo activities.

The men came to the attention of law enforcement after they were seen carrying guns on the streets of Minneapolis during the unrest in late May.

Another alleged member of the Boogloo Bois, Ivan Harrison Hunter, 26, of Boerne, Texas, is facing a federal riot charge after authorities say he fired an AR-style rifle at the 3rd Precinct police station as it burned.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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