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MN legislative leaders address rioting at U.S. Capitol

House Photography file photo

Legislative leaders started the week responding to last week’s unrest at the U.S. Capitol, calling for cooperation during the 2021 session, and expressing disappointments and concerns with each other.

During Monday’s Forum News Service Legislative briefing, House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) called for an investigation to examine what, exactly, was said at the “Storm the Capitol” rally at the Minnesota State Capitol last Wednesday, and whether members of the House present said anything that “advocated for, incited, or supported acts of domestic terrorism.”

“We will be taking a very close look at what the members who were at those rallies said and did and what was going on in D.C.” Hortman said during the heated affair.

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) told reporters he did not know if any members of the House Republican Caucus present at the event made any inflammatory comments.

Forum News Service annual legislative session briefing 1/11/21

“There was nothing here that happened that was violent, or – as far as I know – even incited any violence,” Daudt said. “But we, as a party, have spoken out strongly against what happened in D.C. We will continue to do that. That is absolutely unacceptable.”

He also stressed the importance of upholding all citizens’ rights to peacefully protest and urged that their concerns be listened to by both parties, regardless of what those concerns are.

“What’s happening right now is a very different situation than … this summer. What we’re talking about is an attack on democracy,” Hortman said. “The fundamental tenets of our society are respect for the rule of law and free and fair elections, and there can be no quibbling. There can be no equivocation that it is at all correct for anybody to turn to violence as a solution to the results of an election that they don’t believe in.”

Gov. Tim Walz also expressed frustration with the responses of Republican legislative leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake).

“How do we find common ground when we have people that will not say that the election was fair?” Walz asked. “How do we find common ground when basic medical facts are disregarded? How do we find ground when the leadership continues to perpetrate these falsehoods?”

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