INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Statehouse remained closed Wednesday in response to fears of a potentially violent “Stop the Steal” protest that never happened to mark President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
One lawmaker told FOX59 that he spotted a handful of legislators and some governor’s office and education department employees mingling among the Indiana State Police troopers and National Guard soldiers inside.
The streets outside the Statehouse in downtown Indianapolis remained quiet as parking was restricted and frequent IMPD and ISP patrols circled the building though a smattering of protests were spotted on Monument Circle.
Law enforcement sources said that despite the precautions, they did not expect trouble as social media accounts of potential protesters were quiet all week, perhaps in response to the aftermath of the U.S. Capitol riot and incursion of two weeks ago, which resulted in nationwide FBI investigations, nearly 100 arrests and negative blowback from families and employers of some of the invaders.
One self-described Libertarian who displayed allegiance to the Boogaloo Bois movement told FOX59 during another fizzled protest Sunday that participants were suspicious that any statehouse demonstration against the results of the November presidential election would be a police sting operation intended to conduct surveillance of protest leaders and participants.
Governor Eric Holcomb, in consultation with ISP Superintendent Doug Carter, decided to keep the Statehouse complex and two neighboring office buildings closed at least until Thursday with the General Assembly not expected back at work until next Monday.
“Nobody quit working this week,” said Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray. “Staff still works from home. Senators are continuing to work and advance their bills, and they’re in communication with senators and house members.”
“Just because we’ve missed one day of session, I don’t think its going to put too much of a damper on things,” said State Representative Terri Austin, a Democrat from Anderson. “We may get a little crowded at the end, but we’ll just plow through, put our heads down and get it done.”
Senator Greg Taylor, a Democrat representing Marion County, said some bills may be eliminated from consideration considering the days lawmakers lost to the shutdown.
“I hope that we can get things done,” said Taylor. “We were already under the gun because of some of the COVID restrictions that we’ve been under. We’ve got redistricting to do, and we won’t even get the numbers back until the end of March, beginning of April, and the statute already says we gotta be out of there by April 29th.
“We’re gonna work hard, and we’ve already seen some cooperation from the chair people of the various committees to hear some Democrat bills.”
Taylor said it’s possible Governor Holcomb could call the General Assembly back for a special session in May if all its budget writing and redistricting work remains undone.
Austin said U.S. Census data on which to base redistricting may not be available until mid-May.
Taylor said he expects tighter statehouse security once lawmakers return to work.