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'Minimal' security threat seen at Nebraska State Capitol, law enforcement agencies say

'Minimal' security threat seen at Nebraska State Capitol, law enforcement agencies say

A little used Civil War-era statute that outlaws waging war against the United States is getting a fresh look after the attacks on the Capitol in Washington. Experts told The Associated Press that an action that would try and stop the confirmation of the vote for Joe Biden as president is "the very type of thing that this seditious conspiracy law was designed for." The last successful prosecution for seditious conspiracy in the U.S. came in 1995.

LINCOLN — Law enforcement agencies are telling state lawmakers that they see a “minimal” threat to security due to expected protests at the State Capitol in the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

In an email to senators on Friday, Speaker of the Legislature Mike Hilgers of Lincoln said that he, Omaha Sen. Tony Vargas and Venango Sen. Dan Hughes have been talking with the Nebraska State Patrol, Lincoln and Omaha Police Departments and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Demonstrations have been threatened at all state capitols, as well as in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, continuing through Wednesday, Inauguration Day.

Based on monitoring by those agencies, Hilgers said “the current assessment for Lincoln is that there is a minimal credible threat.”

Because of that, he said, the State Capitol will remain open and operate as usual, including Sunday, which has been specifically identified as a day to protest.

The “minimal threat” assessment, according to Hilgers, is much different than this summer, when people were instructed to stay away from the State Capitol amid protests following the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Earlier this week, there was an increased law enforcement presence in the State Capitol, where the Nebraska Legislature is meeting, the State Supreme Court is located, and the governor and other elected officials have offices. Hilgers said that increased security presence will continue through the inaugural.

“Safety is a top concern of ours,” he said, and if circumstances change, adjustments will be made.

Hilgers took the unusual step of adjourning the Legislature’s Friday meeting “subject to the call of the Speaker.” Such a motion would give him more flexibility in calling off the next session of the Legislature, which is Tuesday, if the situation warranted it.

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Reporter - Regional/state issues

Paul covers state government and affiliated issues. He specializes in tax and transportation issues, following the governor and the state prison system. Follow him on Twitter @PaulHammelOWH. Phone: 402-473-9584.

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