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Protest of Electoral College certification held at Utah Capitol mostly calm

(Steve Griffin, KSL)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Flag-waving demonstrators gathered at Utah's state Capitol Wednesday afternoon to protest Congress accepting the results of the Electoral College votes.

Unlike what has been happening in the nation's capital, the gathering that grew to a couple hundred remained mostly peaceful with periodical chants of "USA" and "Stop the Steal." Some carried flags promoting Blue Lives Matter, President Donald Trump, the "Don't Tread on Me" logo, and numerous homemade signs on preventing "The Steal" or "Stop Socialism" or "Support the Constitution" as they listened to speakers.

"(We're here) to show the other side," Donna Wollman of Ogden said. "We are not putting up with it anymore. They're not the only ones who can take to the streets and get attention."

Counterprotesters driving by would yell their disapproval, sometimes using profanity, and honk at demonstrators standing along the street with signs and flags. Trump supporters would yell back derogatory comments about President-elect Joe Biden, or sometimes smile and laugh and yell "thank you for your support!"

But other than these verbal exchanges, the rally was overall pretty calm, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Anthony Carrubba said.

Police presence consisted of under 10 state troopers, who stood on the perimeter of the Capitol grounds to monitor the situation.

A small group of demonstrators moved through the rally, some with military-style rifles slung on their backs. Others, like Deloy Mecham, attended the rally wearing camouflage and Utah Unorganized Constitutional Militia hats, saying they were there to help keep the peace.

"We do expect some more groups to come up here later this afternoon, and we hope that it remains peaceful like it has so far today," Carrubba said.

There were rumors among the crowd that Black Lives Matter supporters and so-called antifa participants would also march to the Capitol, but it did not appear so by late afternoon.

Susan, who did not provide a last name, writes on a sign “Stolen: My right to a fair legal election” near the steps of the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.
Susan, who did not provide a last name, writes on a sign “Stolen: My right to a fair legal election” near the steps of the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (Photo: Annie Barker, KSL)

Carrubba said the only incident to occur was a disturbance between two people over recording the rally. One man had a phone and was taking a video of the crowd when another man grabbed his phone from his hand.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that one of its photographers was pepper-sprayed by protesters who didn't want him photographing the rally.

But mostly, it was an afternoon of speeches in support of the Trump presidency as well as a prayer and singing.

"When Trump was first elected I wasn't really sure. "I expect people to stand for what they stand for and (Trump) did," Carrie Hughes of Springville said. "President Trump showed me one person can make a difference."

Hughes invited rally participants to come up and speak. She wanted them to share their stories.

"I thought I was alone, but you guys have proven I'm not alone," Hughes said.

Supporters of President Donald Trump rally on the steps of the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.
Supporters of President Donald Trump rally on the steps of the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (Photo: Steve Griffin, KSL)

Ben Barlow, of West Valley City, encouraged members of the crowd to back each other up if counter-protesters show up later.

"We need to keep these guys down, so they can't come in and disrupt what we got going on (here)," Barlow shouted to the cheers of the crowd.

Michael Dixon, who recently moved from Texas to Holladay, was cheered as he talked of the challenges George Washington faced crossing the Delaware River during the Revolutionary War.

"We've been in worse places before. We're gonna overcome this this time. And we're gonna make sure that we win this ... election," he said, noting "we are not going to allow this tyranny to exist."

Dixon specifically did not condone any violence — members of the crowd would at times shout updates about the riot occurring in the halls of Congress — but entreated the crowd to push back against the current cultural and political atmosphere.

Many speakers, including Dixon, called the crowd to action for another rally on Jan. 20, which is inauguration day for Biden.

"We need to get more people here. We need it to be a hundred times more than this." Dixon said.

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Hannah Petersen

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