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Cox puts Utah National Guard on standby ahead of weekend protests

Spencer Cox
Posted at 7:32 PM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 21:35:22-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Spencer Cox has put the Utah National Guard on stand-by ahead of weekend protests over President Trump's election loss.

The move ratchets up security on Utah's Capitol Hill and follows a decision by House and Senate Republican leaders to close the complex to the public. FOX 13 first reported on Wednesday that the Capitol complex would be closed out of concerns for security, as well as fears ongoing protests could become a super-spreader for COVID-19. The complex has been closed since March because of the virus.

Last week's riot in Washington DC by supporters of President Trump who stormed the US Capitol has alarmed many and sparked Wednesday's House impeachment vote. The FBI has warned of the potential for armed demonstrations at state capitol buildings across the country coinciding with President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

Out of an abundance of caution for the protests, the Salt Lake City & County Building was boarded up.

In a statement issued late Wednesday, Gov. Cox said he supported lawmakers' decision to close the building again and push the public to comment online on bills as the 2021 legislative session gets under way.

"I fully support the Legislature’s careful decision to shift legislative business online," Gov. Cox said in the statement. "We appreciate the counsel of the Utah Highway Patrol in monitoring potential social unrest and keeping the public, state employees and the Capitol building safe."

Gov. Cox's office said additional Utah Highway Patrol troopers will be providing security at the Capitol. The Utah National Guard "will be available to help if needed."