The Indiana State Government Complex will be closed to the public on Jan. 19 and Jan. 20 out of an abundance of caution, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced in a press release on Jan. 15. The complex will be closed in light of recent national events, threats to other state capitols and COVID-19 restrictions, according to the press release.
There have not been any credible threats to the Indiana Statehouse and the building was already scheduled to be closed to the public on Jan. 18 in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, according to the press release.
“The safety and security of our state employees and the Hoosiers who use our state services are always top of mind,” Holcomb said in the press release. “After an evaluation with public safety leaders, we have decided to err on the side of caution and close the state government complex to the public. Hoosiers will still be able to access essential state services online, on the phone, or in-person at branches around the state.”
Additionally, the Indiana General Assembly will not be in session for the week of Jan. 18, after Indiana Speaker of the House Todd Huston and Indiana Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray canceled legislative activity for the week, according to the press release. There will not be committee or session meetings next week, and staff will be working remotely until they are told to return to the Indiana Statehouse, according to the press release
“This decision was made out of caution and in the best interest of everyone involved in the legislative process,” Huston said in the press release. “Public gatherings are a critical component of our democracy, and I pray that any demonstrations are peaceful and respectful of the incredible privilege we all have as Americans to make our voices heard.”
Bray said that while legislators have a lot of work to do on the behalf of Hoosiers this legislative session, the safety of everyone in the Indiana Statehouse is always their number one priority.
“We trust [Indiana State Police] Superintendent Doug Carter and his team, and at his urging, made the decision to cancel our activities out of an abundance of caution,” Bray said in the press release.
Indiana Senate Democratic Leader Greg Taylor said in a statement on behalf of the Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus that he supports the decision to close the Indiana Statehouse. Taylor said in the statement that legislators’ primary concern should be providing a safe environment to the staff, the public and the reporters who come into the building.
“I would be remiss to not acknowledge that this is a sad day for Indiana and America as elected officials cannot complete the work those who elected us sent us here to do,” Taylor said in the statement. “This nation needs to heal, and we must quickly get back to working on behalf of Hoosiers across the state …. We hope every Hoosier can come together in the name of progress and equal rights for all.”
The closures come as the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office announced that it, along with its law enforcement partners, were aware of a report that indicated that there could be protests at state capitols leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20. In a Jan. 15 press release, the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office said that there has not been any specific and corroborated threat to the Indiana Statehouse or other government buildings in the state.
The FBI said that through a collaborative effort of federal, state, and local public safety agencies, it and its partner agencies will continually monitor for potential security concerns and provide timely notification should the situation change, according to the press release. The FBI said that all agencies remain committed in their mission to protect citizens and respect those who choose to exercise their First Amendment rights, including the right to peacefully protest, according to the press release.
The FBI is not focusing on peaceful protestors, but on those threatening the safety of them and the safety of other citizens with violence and destruction of property, according to the press release. Any criminal activity, destruction of property, and intentional incitement of violence to prevent others from peacefully expressing their First Amendment rights will not be tolerated, according to the press release.
The FBI and its law enforcement partners take all threats seriously and fully investigate each one that is sent to the FBI’s National Threat Operations Center, the local FBI field office or from partner agencies, according to the press release.
The FBI’s statement, along with the announcement of the closure of the state government complex next week, come a little more than a week after a group of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, leading to the death of one U.S. Capitol Police Officer and four others, according to the Associated Press.
Indiana is not the only state responding to warnings of potentially violent demonstrations. Governors from across the U.S. are closing their state capitols to the public, declaring states of emergency and are deploying National Guard troops ahead of Biden’s inauguration, according to the AP.
Demonstrations are expected at state capitals starting on Jan. 17, and officials in multiple states are hoping to avoid the type of violence that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, according to the AP. The FBI said in a press release that anyone with information on the U.S. Capitol incident or upcoming protests can contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or at fbi.gov/USCapitol.
Locally, if anyone sees any suspicious and/or suspected criminal activity they are encouraged to report the activity by calling 911 for life-threatening emergencies, the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office at (317) 595-4000 or at 1-800-CALL-FBI, or by submitting a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.