Utah Capitol Fills With Trump Supporters After Insurrection In Congress

Gabi de Oliveira, Staff Writer

After a large crowd of President Trump’s supporters broke into the United States Capitol today in an attempt to back the President’s claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election and protest against the vote of ratification for Biden, demonstrators have been manifesting outside of several other government buildings, including the Utah Capitol here in Salt Lake City.

Protestors arrived early this afternoon to show solidarity with those protesting outside of D.C., and unlike the D.C. protests, the demonstrations outside of the Utah Capitol were mostly nonviolent. Staffers left the building as the crowd of around 200 appeared to grow and become increasingly riled up. Several of these protestors were armed, and carrying signs saying things like “Stop the Steal”. Protestors were also seen flying flags ranging from “Trump 2020” to the Gadsden flag and the Blue Lives Matter flag. Demonstrations of affection for QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory, were also seen today at the Capitol building. Almost none were wearing masks or social distancing.

Although the protest was mainly peaceful, members of the Proud Boys and the Utah Citizens Alarm were also spotted chasing counterprotestor Arlin Cooper and escorting an unidentified protestor off of Capitol grounds, carrying bats and guns and yelling profanities. Notably, photographer Rick Egan of the Salt Lake Tribune was pepper sprayed in the eyes by a protester. 

Recently inaugurated Utah Governor Spencer Cox condemned the “violence” and “terrorism” seen at the nation’s Capitol in a video posted on his Twitter, and encouraged joining peaceful protests. 

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the Highway Patrol strengthened its presence at the Capitol so as to “be on the safe side”. Lt. Nicholas Street of the Highway Patrol said that while the protesters were “very peaceful”, they had evidence that some “bad actors” in the past might have shown up. 

Trump supporter holds sign about voter fraud and “Marxist/Satanist” schemes (Audrey Hemingway)

Speakers were heard calling President-elect Biden a communist, saying that the country would turn into “Communist China” under him and pushing the rhetoric that the “fake news” is “brainwashing” America. One speaker spoke about how the government was conspiring against “patriots”, and the only one who could save us is “our great President, Donald J. Trump”.

Highland student and Rambler photographer Audrey Hemingway was on site taking photos. 

“Everyone was wearing bulletproof vests, everyone,” said Hemingway. “It was hard to tell cops from protestors, because they were all wearing bulletproof vests and had guns around their chests.”

Trump supporters outside the Utah Capitol (Audrey Hemingway)

Hemingway went on to say that a member of the Proud Boys approached her as she was taking photos, grabbed her by her arm, and harassed her until police came nearby. Another member of the Proud Boys asked Hemingway why she was taking pictures, and saying that she “better be taking pictures for a good cause”.  

Riots and protests have continued throughout the country, with many public figures on both sides of the isle criticising President Trump for his lack of condemnation of those who stormed the U.S. Capitol today. Most protesters have left both the Utah Capitol and the U.S. Capitol, allowing for the legislative session to continue. After the events of today, more Republicans have been siding with President-elect Biden; notably, Rep. Mike Lee of Utah. According to various news sources, there has been talk in the White House of enacting the 25th Amendment and making Vice President Mike Pence take over the position of POTUS before President-elect Biden’s inauguration.