Safety precautions in place at Utah Capitol amid protest concerns

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) — The Utah State Capitol complex has been closed to the public since March due to COVID-19 health precautions. Wednesday, the Utah Legislature announced the capitol will now close for the 2021 general session due to safety precautions.

Developing news of possible Inauguration Day protests has surfaced following last week’s protests at our nation’s capitol. The Utah Legislature says public participation in legislative proceedings will be temporarily conducted virtually “out of an abundance of caution.”

Officials with the legislature say the decision 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.

“As lawmakers, we take our responsibility to govern seriously,” said Senate President J. Stuart Adams. “We will convene as scheduled in a manner that is safe for everyone as we work on behalf of Utahns. Though this session will be unconventional, we recognize the value of public input and have worked to fine-tune a process that enables remote public comment. We encourage all Utahns to utilize this new process throughout the session.”

Officials say their primary concerns are for the safety of those who would be in the Capitol under ordinary circumstances and for the Legislature to be able to conduct the business of the people without interruption. “It is unfortunate we have to take this step but we have the procedures and technologies in place to allow us to adjust and move forward. We will work closely with the Utah Highway Patrol as we evaluate conditions and determine when in-person options can resume,” Speaker of the House Brad Wilson shares.

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. 

Local protestors gathered at the Utah State Capitol last week to protest along with those at the nation’s Capitol. According to the FBI bulletin, they have also received recent reports of a group calling for the “storming” of state and federal government buildings in the event President Trump is removed from office prior to Inauguration Day. 

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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