Security for GOP dinner increases

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COEUR d’ALENE — Concerns of violent protests have the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee ramping up security at its annual Lincoln Day dinner.

A letter sent by committee secretary Alex Barron to potential attendees of the event, which takes place at The Coeur d’Alene Resort on March 4, details measures to prevent interference from outside groups. Brent Regan, chairman of the central committee, told The Press Monday the organization is taking precautionary measures in light of national news.

“When you hold an event you are responsible to make sure attendees are secure, so we’re going to take steps to make them safe,” Regan said. “It isn’t because of any imminent concern or threat. Tensions are high nationally right now and we want to be prepared.”

An item in the letter, Regan added, stating the central committee has arranged for “a uniformed Post Falls LEO to be present” was an error.

When asked if there would be any official law enforcement presence at the event, Regan declined to comment.

According to the letter, the dinner, titled “Making America Great Again Begins in Idaho,” aims to celebrate local Idaho businesses and organizations that are making America great in Idaho. The letter adds the dinner will provide a “select group of individuals” with an opportunity to interact with community leaders in both the public and private sectors who are working with “various incoming leaders of the new administration.”

“In face of significant nationwide violence we understand that some of you have concerns regarding possible protests at our events,” the letter adds. “We would like to assure you that we have taken positive steps to ensure safety and civility.”

Civility, according to the letter, will be strictly enforced and anyone wishing to protest “may do so outside on the public road.”

“I believe it is essential that we not back down from a few bullies and miscreants out to intimidate American citizens, and the best way to do that is a show of unity and strength,” the letter concludes.

Teuvo Orjala, whose North Idaho Indivisible group has made its presence felt at recent political events, told The Press there was no official plan to protest the Lincoln Day dinner. However, after reading the letter, Orjala said he now thinks it might be necessary.

“Because of a few bad apples at thousands of protests, with millions of people, they call us violent,” Orjala said. “We will have to peacefully show up and remind them we are their friends and neighbors, not violent ‘miscreants.’”

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