Utah state of emergency details ahead of potential weekend protests

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Thursday, Utah Governor Spencer Cox declared a state of emergency in Utah due to potential protests being held at the Utah State Capitol over the weekend and coming days.

Gov. Cox’s office says the state of emergency is being declared in light of the protests that occurred at the U.S. State Capitol last week.

Gov. Cox’s office tells ABC4 News the state of emergency was made as a general precaution to “make sure safety is first.”

“We respect the right of Utah residents to peaceably assemble as guaranteed in the U.S.
Constitution,” says Cox. “But we draw the line at threats to physical safety or to the Utah Capitol
building. No violence of any kind will be tolerated.”

The Utah Highway Patrol and Utah National Guard, as well as other local police departments and Salt Lake City’s chapter of the FBI, have been put on standby in anticipation of a protest, according to a statement from Gov. Cox’s office.

Lt. Nick Street with the Utah Highway Patrol tells ABC4, UHP troopers are tasked with handling all security measures at the Utah State Capitol. 

The capitol has its own section of the Utah Highway Patrol, Section 18. In any threatening situation, UHP troopers would also protect anyone who might be at the capitol at the time of the incident. 

Last week as lawmakers were meeting and expected to vote to affirm Joe Biden’s victory, the Nation’s Capitol was placed on lockdown. In Utah, local protestors gathered at the Utah State Capitol to protest along with those at our nation’s capitol.

Lt. Street says in addition to the Utah Highway Patrol, the Salt Lake City Police Department, Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Unified Police Department, and the Utah National Guard is always on standby if an incident were to occur.

Thursday, during Utah Governor Spencer Cox’s weekly COVID-19 briefing, he addressed the Utah National Guard has been placed on standby ahead of any possible planned protests in Salt Lake City.

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.

In preparation, local law enforcement says the City and County Building downtown, has boarded up its windows out of an abundance of caution and residents are on high alert.

Utah’s 2nd District Congressman Chris Stewart took to social media Friday addressing anyone who considering joining in on violent acts. “For those who choose violence, rest assured you will be found and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This is a critical moment in our republic. Political violence and domestic terrorism have plagued our nation all summer and culminated last week at the Capitol. Clearly, too many people on both sides feel marginalized and unheard. We must address this. This is a critical moment in our republic. Political violence and domestic terrorism have plagued our nation all summer and culminated last week at the Capitol. Clearly, too many people on both sides feel marginalized and unheard. We must address this.”

“I am now receiving chilling briefs from federal officials that similar armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols and the US Capitol in the coming days. For those planning to participate in any of these armed protests—don’t,” Rep Swetart shares.

According to FBI bulletin obtained by ABC4 News, starting this week and running through Inauguration Day, armed protests are planned at the Utah State Capitol and all 49 other state capitol buildings. 

Law enforcement agencies say federal law enforcement officials advise police agencies to increase their security posture at statehouses around the country.

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