SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Several hundred people waving Trump flags and holding “Stop the Steal” signs rallied outside the Utah Capitol Wednesday, though the relatively calm protest didn’t match the fury seen in Washington where protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a chaotic protest.
Despite the lack of disturbances, the staff of new Gov. Spencer Cox was sent home Wednesday afternoon, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson tweeted.
Additional questions about that decision weren’t immediately answered by the governor’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Napier-Pearce, or by Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Nick Street, whose agency is in charge of security at the state capitol.
A crowd of about 200 people in Salt Lake City crowded around a television monitor on the steps of the Capitol to watch the president give a speech promoting his baseless claims of election fraud at a rally that came before violent clashes broke out between his supporters and police in Washington, D.C., ahead of Congress’ expected vote to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Utah legislators in Washington, D.C., for the election certification proceedings Wednesday condemned the violence occurring in the Capitol.
Rep. Christ Stewart, who represents a large part of Southern Utah, issued the following statement: “Protesters who are breaking windows, threatening violence, and accosting police are behaving inexcusably. It is un-American. This must stop now!”
On Twitter, Sen. Mike Lee said “the Senate should continue the work of the American people immediately. This outrage cannot be allowed to disrupt that work for a minute longer.”
Sen. Mitt Romney also issued a statement Wednesday afternoon, in which he placed blame on President Donald Trump:
What happened at the U.S. Capitol today was an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States. Those who choose to continue to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate, democratic election will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy. The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth. That is the burden, and the duty, of leadership. We must not be intimidated or prevented from fulfilling our constitutional duty. I urge my colleagues to move forward with completing the electoral count, to refrain from further objections, and to unanimously affirm the legitimacy of the presidential election.
Jason IsBell, one of the event organizers in Salt Lake City, said there were no plans to storm the Utah Capitol.
Colton Fiedler, 23, of South Jordan, said he was the first person to arrive at the statehouse at just before 9 a.m. in the hopes that the nation’s representatives in Congress would “finally find the courage to do the right thing.”
“I am a registered Republican, but I don’t know how much longer I will be,” said Fiedler, who was holding a Trump 2020 sign. “The Republican Party is dead as of this year. It is the party of Trump now.”
Election officials from both political parties, governors in key battleground states and Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, have said there was no widespread fraud in the election. Nearly all the legal challenges from Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges, including two challenges rejected by the Supreme Court.
Written by SOPHIA EPPOLITO, Associated Press/Report for America. St. George News contributed to this report.
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