Statehouse, Legislature close from threats

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

The Indiana Statehouse and all buildings at the state government complex are shut down today and Wednesday.

Because of possible threats of violence at state capitols across the country, officials decided to close the complex on those two days. In addition, legislators will not meet this week.

While state officials have said there have been no credible threats against the Statehouse, the concerns of the Indiana State Police led to the decision.

“The threats were real enough that the state [police] superintendent was concerned,” State Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper said Saturday. “They were concerned that if things got really serious if they would have enough manpower to protect everybody.”

Legislators learned of the decision late Friday. “I was called about three o'clock,” Messmer said, “right after the House and Senate leadership met with the governor and the state police superintendent.” State Rep. Shane Lindauer, R-Jasper, said that was about the same time he was told.

Gove. Eric Holcomb made the official announcement Friday evening, citing recent national events, threats to other state capitols and COVID-19 restrictions.

"The safety and security of our state employees and the Hoosiers who use our state services are always top of mind," he said in a 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."

About 1,500 people that work in the Statehouse, not including the legislators, Messmer said.

Lindauer said that the House of Representatives has been meeting in the South Government Center because the house chamber was not big enough for the 100 representatives to spread out.

“So we were walking either through tunnels or outside to go to the South Government Center,” he said. “So that also is complicating things.”

Last week, there were about 200 protesters outside where he walked to the building, Lindauer said. But they were peaceful, so there were no problems.

“They were great,” he said. “Because of the way I come into the Statehouse, I walked right through them four times. And it was fine.”

But that kind of exposure is part of the police’s concerns, Lindauer said.

Because the Indiana General Assembly will not be in session, bills that were scheduled for hearing next week are being rescheduled. And Holcomb will deliver tonight’s State of the State Address, virtually, at 7 p.m. His weekly COVID-19 briefing will also be virtual, at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.




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