Ventura urges calm, preparedness

K.C. Howard

The State of Minnesota is prepared and ready for attack and the National Guard is on call to enact a state emergency plan at his will, Gov. Jesse Ventura along with Public Safety Commissioner Charlie Weaver assured citizens Tuesday.

“I would equate this with Pearl Harbor,” Ventura said. “At least in the Pearl Harbor situation we knew who the enemy was.”

Ventura asked citizens to continue business as usual and to remain calm but alert. He insisted there were “no hint” of any Minnesota targets, but said the state was in contact with the FBI, CIA, Secret Service and Minnesota law enforcement agencies.

There were several bomb threats throughout Minnesota on Tuesday, all of which were hoaxes, state officials said.

“The Department of Public Safety and the Division of Emergency Management have developed a plan for such events,” Weaver said. “The Division of Emergency Management has partially activated the State Emergency Operations Center in accordance with our emergency operations plan.”

The EOC, established during the Y2K scare, will maintain effective and accurate communication between local, state and federal authorities.

The commissioner flashed a terrorist contingency plan manual in front of the press gathered on the Capitol steps. He said the state practices for terrorist attacks every two weeks. The state had a simulated terrorist attack on a school in Glencoe, Minn., two weeks ago. The department practiced a bomb threat in the IDS Center in 1999.

No state buildings have been closed, and although there is limited access into the Capitol, officials said tourists would be admitted. Government buildings will have tightened security until further notice.

“I want people to understand it’s not over yet,” the governor said.

Ventura canceled plans for a charity golf tournament and remained at the Capitol with the commissioner.

Ventura encouraged schools to remain open, but to “maximize security.”

“People should only be in schools who belong there,” he said.

Officials urged Minnesotans to wait a day before contacting friends or family in New York and Washington areas. “Just let the locals deal with this,” Weaver said.

Concerned citizens have bombarded police with hundreds of calls since information about the attacks was released. “It’s paralyzing our 911,” Weaver said, urging Minnesotans to only call the number in cases of emergency.

“Be awake, be aware, use all your senses. Pay attention to what’s going on around you,” Ventura said.

 

Mobilization

It’s an act of war, Ventura said Tuesday in his second press conference. He promised full support for whatever course of action President George W. Bush might take.

“It’s time we set aside the less important aspects of our lives and show our complete support for democracy and our democratic leaders. To President Bush, I pledge support and complete confidence from the state of Minnesota,” he said.

Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer pressed citizens to vote on Tuesday in primary elections for metro mayors and the Minneapolis City Council. “Make a statement about freedom. It’s alive and well,” she said. All polling places remained open.

Primary municipal elections were also slated in New York City and Detroit on Tuesday. New York City’s elections were postponed, but Detroit city elections continued as planned.

When asked how youth should respond to such an attack, Kiffmeyer said: “We wouldn’t have the freedoms that we have today, we wouldn’t be able to go vote today, if a generation of young people years before hadn’t taken the courage and responded to the call for defense. And it may be that time again now … We need young people at this time more than ever, both in voting and in maybe other acts of citizenship that may be more difficult as well.”

 

K.C. Howard welcomes comments at [email protected]