UHP ‘Definitely Prepared’ For Potential Clashes At Utah State Capitol
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – As a crowd of President Donald Trump supporters gathered in Washington D.C., so too did one on Utah’s capitol hill. The rhetoric from protesters was similar: many spewing vitriol into microphones, toward counterprotesters and at members of the media.
But unlike D.C., this protest stayed outside the government building. Had protesters attempted to storm Utah’s capitol, troopers were ready, said Sgt. Nick Street with the Utah Highway Patrol, which is tasked with policing Utah’s capitol.
Street said the department of public safety has been watching social media for a few weeks and saw plenty of posts with folks planning to attend – some using aggressive language. He said troopers were “definitely prepared.”
— Matt Gephardt KSL (@KslMatt) January 6, 2021
“Today is a day that we ought to staff up some manpower,” Street said, adding DPS brass determined to protect both the building and the people inside.
In the end, protesters in Utah, which got as large as about 500, never even attempted to enter the building.
There were a few skirmishes outside, mostly minor though troopers are currently trying to track down a protester who pepper-sprayed a Salt Lake Tribune photojournalist.
“We’ve got some pretty good leads there,” Street said.
Street said law enforcement has learned a lot about being prepared in the past year after violent incidents unfolder in Utah and all over the country. Following suit, he expects things in Utah to evolve following the violence witnessed in D.C. on Wednesday.
“The pulse of the nation is changing and law enforcement, we’re making changes with that,” Street said.
The Utah State Capitol has been operating on a bit of a skeleton crew due to the COVID-19 pandemic — but folks who were inside Wednesday were told they could go home if they wanted at about 2 p.m. as the crowd outside began to grow.
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