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Ahead Of Several Planned Protests, Fencing Once Again Surrounds The Minnesota State Capitol

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A large fence once again surrounded the Minnesota State Capitol on Wednesday as security is beefed up ahead of a number of planned protests, some of which could draw thousands.

Earlier this summer, fencing around the capitol was taken down after being in place for more than a year following the murder of George Floyd, the mass protests and the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

While it's unclear when this new fence will be removed, records indicate that the money for the fencing came from emergency purchasing powers, which allow for spending up to $100,000. For perspective, the last fence that went up cost $72,000 for just installation and removal. Total costs were around $200,000.

Several upcoming events are planned for the capitol grounds, including a protest against the Enbridge Energy Line 3 oil pipeline on Wednesday afternoon.

Organizers of that protest say that heightened security at the capitol is an overreach and a "strident" move on part of law enforcement, considering the protesters have a permit to demonstrate.

Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, who chairs the capitol security committee, stand by the decision to put up the fence and boost law enforcement's presence.

According to a statement from their office, "the state has an obligation to protect public safety and public property at the capitol, and Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan trust Minnesota public safety professionals to ensure that people can exercise their First Amendment rights while keeping the capitol, its tenants and demonstrators safe."

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety wouldn't offer details on the decision-making process that went into the request for the fencing.

The inside of the capitol is currently closed to the public.

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