South Dakota State Capitol remains calm through Inauguration Day

FBI warnings of potential violence at state capitols across the nation appeared to have never come to a head.
Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 4:51 PM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - State capitol buildings across the nation remained heavily protected today as President Joe Biden was officially sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.

However, it appears that no state capitol faced any sort of imminent threat.

That was certainly the case in Pierre Wednesday.

The grounds of the South Dakota State Capitol building had seen an increased security presence since Saturday evening. Since then, members of the South Dakota National Guard, and a number of State Troopers have had an increased presence on the grounds.

The day of Inauguration, troopers were standing guard at every entrance to the building. This was a first since they initially upgraded their presence.

Despite the upgraded security presence, it was business as usual Wednesday in the capitol building.

Many state legislators said the security was unlike anything that they had seen here before.

“There was a noticeable presence of more security today,” said State Rep. Erin Healy (D-Sioux Falls). “More highway patrolmen... They are at every entrance, they were at the already secured (public) entrance this morning when I walked in.”

While that show of force was on display, armed protests that the FBI warned about never materialized.

Had someone shown up Wednesday, they would not have been the first this year. Pro-Trump protestors came to Pierre the same day the presidential election results were certified, but remained peaceful. A peaceful, right-wing prayer group also gathered at the capitol building Sunday.

“I have seen the highway patrol more visible,” said State Sen. Helene Duhamel (R-Rapid City). “I’ve seen their security dog out sniffing in our lockers. Frankly, it makes me feel comfortable to know there is a strong (law enforcement) presence, especially right now.”

Neither the South Dakota Department of Public Safety or the South Dakota National Guard have commented on the upgraded security presence here, or if it was spurned by the FBI’s warning.

Regardless, state legislators all continue to echo the same sentiment.

“I definitely feel secure in this building,” said Healy. “Being one of the only state capitols located off an interstate is also helpful in that security, knowing that we are a little bit harder to get to.”

When asked about how much longer they expect these extra security measures to continue, neither the state’s Department of Public Safety or National Guard provided an answer.

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