Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) questioned how nearly 100 election protesters were able to breach security around the governor’s mansion this week, marching straight up to the doors while Inslee and his wife were inside.
Photos and video show supporters of President Donald Trump ― including at least one person armed with a long gun ― walking up the drive and onto the front porch after shaking open a front gate on Wednesday.
Some carried “Stop the Steal” signs, referring to the baseless conspiracy theory that officials have been dishonest about the presidential election results. Some also intended to confront Inslee about coronavirus-related safety precautions, according to local news station KIRO 7.
“We pay for this mansion, so yeah we’re taking it over,” one man shouted into a bullhorn, according to the outlet.
The breach occurred the same day that a mob of angry pro-Trump protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, which left five people dead.
Washington State Patrol officers are in charge of protecting the governor’s mansion around the clock. The building is ringed by fencing.
Inslee revealed Thursday that he had been inside at the time, feeling “that there was good security at the building.”
“There was a lone cadet at the gate, he did an admirable job given the circumstances,” the governor said at a virtual press conference.
He added: “I’m disappointed in this situation. We’re going to find out why it happened and how it happened.”
A spokesman for the Washington State Patrol, Sergeant Darren Wright, told KOMO News, another local station, that “we weren’t expecting” the protesters to pass the front gate. Wright said the officers were “somewhat prepared but could be better.”
The officers’ casual response to the security breach has prompted critics to ask why the same agency responded so differently to Black Lives Matter protesters last year, when they formed a ring around the mansion dressed in riot gear.
Wright said “what changes our actions is their actions,” referring to people outside the mansion.
“If someone was carrying a rifle but they are not being aggressive or intimidating or threatening with that, then it’s not an issue,” he said. “If someone is carrying a stick and swinging it at us in a violent manner and wielding it in a manner that’s a weapon, then we will react to that.”
No arrests have been made.
In the nation’s capital, police have faced similar criticisms over the lack of initial response to protesters, who breached barricades and smashed windows to gain access to the building.