SLC PROTEST

Protestors March To State Capitol Armed With Guns

Aug 30, 2020, 11:56 PM | Updated: Nov 29, 2022, 11:39 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A group of protestors marched to the Capitol to rally against police brutality and in favor of equality, but the difference in Sunday’s rally was that most of the protestors were armed with semi-automatic weapons.

Militia groups have showed up to protests with guns before, but this time, groups that normally don’t arm themselves, exercised their second amendment rights as well. They were also joined by an unlikely ally.  

“You’ve gotta be able to fire back if somebody’s firing at you,” said John Sullivan. “Do you want to die? I don’t want to die.”

John Sullivan is one of the organizers of the rally. He’s with the Black Fist Coalition and Insurgents USA — two groups in support of Black Lives Matter that don’t typically protest with guns.

“I bought this bullet proof vest. I bought this gun and I spent a thousand dollars on these armored plates,” he said. “You think I want to do that? That’s the question. No I don’t, but I did in self defense,”

Sunday afternoon, 30-40 people marched from Washington Square to the Capitol, dressed in tactical gear and armed with semi-automatic weapons.

They were exercising their second amendment rights, adding they were prepared to defend themselves if needed from militia groups who sometimes show up at their protests.

“I want to make sure I keep myself safe when I’m going out here protesting and also say, ‘hey, I can also express myself the same way that you can. I can speak your language. I can carry guns as well,'” said Sullivan.

Some militia members did show up.

“Any opportunity that we have to exercise our second amendment right, we will seize it,” Sullivan said.

But in a twist, they were on the same side.

“I just want to simply show that we can stand in unity with each other, regardless of our views,” said Tyson Holyoak.

Tyson Holyoak is with the Utah Constitutional Militia.

He said while the groups represented Sunday afternoon may have differing opinions, everyone should have a right to free speech and the right to bear arms. 

And while many would argue that more people carrying guns around downtown Salt Lake is escalating tensions, both sides said they weren’t looking for a fight.

“I would rather have peace over confrontation. I don’t want to see anybody die or get hurt,” said Holyoak.

In total, the protest lasted several hours, but there were no acts of violence and no one fired a weapon.

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Protestors March To State Capitol Armed With Guns