SALT LAKE CITY — More than 300 National Guard troops from Utah headed to Washington, D.C. this weekend to prepare for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday. At home, state troopers increased security at the Utah Capitol in hopes there will be no violence as the week drags on.
A small group of protesters gathered at the Utah Capitol Sunday afternoon amid a strong presence of security officials. The Capitol grounds remain closed to the public after Gov. Spencer Cox issued a weeklong state of emergency Friday.
However, security forces allowed the group to stay because of a previously-signed permit.
Group gather for protest outside Utah Capitol building
The protest group remained peaceful at the Utah Capitol building Sunday, with roughly a dozen armed protesters standing near the south entrance. Members argued they did not promote violence, but harbor disappointment toward government officials.
“The fear-mongering is taking this country in a downward spiral,” one protester shouted through a bullhorn. “This is a joke.”
Other protesters gathered throughout the afternoon, waving American flags and donning memorabilia supporting President Donald Trump. Others noted they did not support “the dictator Donald Trump in office,” but said their concerns go beyond politics.
“We’re in a place right now in our nation where people are worried and there’s a big turning point for us when it comes to the types of laws that we see people passing,” one protester told the Deseret News. “And it’s not just with the new administration. We’ve seen a ton of tyrannical laws being passed through Trump’s administration.”
Looking ahead to Inauguration Day
Members of the Utah National Guard and Utah Highway Patrol will remain on-guard at the State Capitol throughout the week. This is in line with several other states across the U.S., with governors preparing to protect against potential violence.
“We respect the right of Utah residents to peaceably assemble as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution,” Cox said. “But we draw the line at threats to physical safety or to the Utah Capitol building. No violence of any kind will be tolerated.”
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