Fearing more violence, Minnesota maintains fence around Capitol building

Since late May, the building has been surrounded by a chain-link fence that costs $8,000 per month.

National Guardsmen stand on the steps of the Capitol during a demonstration in May. (Minnesota National Guard/Facebook)

Much like coronavirus lockdowns, the chain-link fence outside the Minnesota State Capitol was intended to be a temporary measure but has remained in place for the better part of a year.

Minnesota’s State Capitol was designed by Cass Gilbert, the same man who drew the plans for the U.S. Supreme Court. The state has long taken pride in its uniquely beautiful Capitol and made it one of the most publicly accessible in the nation. However, since late May, the building has been surrounded by a chain-link fence that costs $8,000 per month, according to state Rep. Jeremy Munson.

National Guard soldiers surrounded the Capitol during May’s riots. (Minnesota National Guard/Facebook)

“$8,000 per month of taxpayer money is being used to fence out the public … and it’s not going away anytime soon,” Munson wrote on Facebook.

MinnPost reports that the fence costs about $8,200 per month in addition to a $23,119 setup and removal fee.

Munson seems displeased with what the fence represents: fear of rioters but tolerance of their behavior. “Public officials have accepted a response from the left that rioting and looting will be a tolerable response and they will continue to stand down and not arrest rioters who destroy public property,” Munson wrote.

John Harrington, the Walz-appointed Department of Public Safety commissioner, said the fence is likely to stay up at least through the spring, since the trial of the officers in the George Floyd case and the construction of the Line 3 replacement pipeline could cause further unrest.

“As we continue to monitor both the intel about tactics that protest groups have brought in other cities and have brought here in the Twin Cities, we still see a need for the fence to be up,” Harrington told the Star Tribune.

The plan to keep the fence up into 2021 has been in place at least since early August, per a WCCO report.

“This is unacceptable. There will always be a small minority of people upset with the government’s decisions. This fence needs to go and the rule of law needs to return,” Munson added.

Minnesota is not the only state to fence in its legislative building. Georgia unveiled a $5 million plan to erect an 8-foot fence around its Capitol in early October, according to local news.