Protestors marched on the Utah State Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 as chaos unfolded in Washington, D.C. Trump supporters waved “Stop the Steal” banners as they protested perceived election fraud. One of the demonstrators said he joined the protest in Salt Lake City to make state officials “finally find the courage to do the right thing.” He added, “The Republican Party is dead as of this year. It is the party of Trump now.” A significant proportion of the protesters openly carried guns. Protestor Michelle Prether told reporters, “It’s my right to carry my guns. It’s my right to conceal them. It’s my right to hold them.”
The rally included several speakers who appeared to be local Trump supporters. One speaker, Michael Dixon, said, “We’ve been in worse places before. We’re gonna overcome this this time. And we’re gonna make sure that we win this…election. We are not going to allow this tyranny to exist.” Other speakers called for additional rallies on Jan. 20, Biden’s inauguration day.
While the protest was frequently reported as largely “peaceful” or “calm,” members of the media were attacked, including a reporter from the Salt Lake Tribune who was pepper sprayed and a another for the Tribune who was shoved by a demonstrator. Other local media outlets reported that Proud Boys members joined the demonstration and violently engaged in skirmishes with Black Lives Matter counterprotesters. Additional participants were from the Utah Citizens’ Alarm, an extremist armed militia group that was founded in reaction to Black Lives Matter in 2020.
Governor Spencer Cox was sent home by his security detail, according to press reports. The Utah Highway Patrol said there was no mandatory evacuation of the Capitol, as some had claimed on social media, but employees were offered an early work release, which some took advantage of.