FBI preparing for armed protesters; command post set up for days ahead

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FILE – This Thursday, June 14, 2018, file photo, shows the FBI seal at a news conference at FBI headquarters in Washington. The FBI has been shaken by a series of sexual misconduct cases involving senior leadership over the past few years, including two new claims brought in December 2020 by women who say they were sexually assaulted by supervisors. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 News) – The FBI is adopting a “heightened posture” in advanced of planned protests in the coming days, according to a special agent with Salt Lake City’s FBI office.

On Thursday, Salt Lake’s City-County building reflected those concerns — with windows boarded up, and a wooden wall erected around the front steps to block people from getting inside the front doors of the historic building.

Special Agent David Fitzgibbons, with FBI Salt Lake City Field Office, says they haven’t heard of any specific threats around the potentially armed protests — but they need the public’s help to keep us all safe.

“We cannot do what we do without the public’s help. We absolutely need any tips, anything they’re suspicious of, to be reported,” said Fitzgibbons.

Thursday evening, Governor Spencer Cox declared a state of emergency in advance of the protests. The Utah National Guard, along with other law enforcement, will be on standby in case of escalation.

Fitzgibbons with the FBI says people have a right to free speech, but not to unlawful activity.

“We don’t want to get involved in any way whatsoever with people’s First Amendment right to protest peacefully, but when individuals start engaging in violence and inciting violence and violating the law, we won’t leave any stone unturned,” said Fitzgibbons.

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