SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) — Thursday, during Utah Governor Spencer Cox’s weekly COVID-19 briefing, he addressed the Utah National Guard being placed on standby ahead of possible planned protests at the State Capitol.
Gov. Cox says he has been working “very closely” with the Department of Public Safety, the Utah National Guard, the Utah Legislature, and all those involved with the capitol complex to ensure safety in the coming days and weeks. Salt Lake City’s chapter of the FBI is also on standby ready to assist the state with any needed safety measures.
“Our message is, we would ask that the citizens in the state of Utah and anyone who may be thinking of coming to the capitol we respect and honor your 1st Amendment rights to gather, but we want to make it very clear that the constitution only protects your rights to gather peaceably,” Gov. Cox stated. “There will be zero tolerance for any violence whatsoever, any property destruction.”
He says the state is working with The Utah Highway Patrol, who is tasked with protecting the state capitol and has reserves in place ready for whatever happens.
“They will be ready this weekend,” Gov. Cox shares.
As soon as any gatherings start to occur the Utah National Guard will be deployed, Gov. Cox adds.
Developing news of possible protests leading up to and on Inauguration Day, the Utah State Capitol complex has been closed to all “out of an abundance of caution.”
Officials with the Utah Legislature say the decision to close the Capitol was made after the Utah Highway Patrol raised concerns with legislative leadership about protests planned at the Capitol, coinciding with the opening of the 45-day annual general session.
According to an FBI bulletin obtained by ABC4 News, starting this week and running through Inauguration Day, Wednesday, January 20, a possible armed protest could take place at the Utah State Capitol and all 49 other state capitol buildings.
Last week, as protesters gathered at the nation’s Capitol to protest as members of the U.S. House and Senate met to record the vote tally affirming Joe Biden as the next president, Utahns joined in at the Utah State Capitol.