SALT LAKE CITY — A small group of protesters gathered at the Utah State Capitol Sunday morning, far less than what was expected. The largest presence was by far from police, Utah National Guard and other law enforcement agencies.
"We for sure did not want to have any sort of situation occur as to what we saw in Washington D.C.," said Utah Department of Public Safety Commissioner Jess Anderson.
There were more than 600 boots on the ground between the various law enforcement agencies and members of the National Guard, according to Anderson.
"This is monumental," he added. "We've never done anything like this in the past... ever."
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Of the roughly 30 protesters that came to the Capitol, approximately 12 were part of a group calling themselves the "Bois of Liberty."
"We have a huge problem right now with overreaching government," said one member of the Bois of Liberty group, who declined to give his name. "We have government infringing on people's rights all the time."
Five in the group were armed with rifles, and one was using a bullhorn, saying "To be clear, we do not support keeping the dictator Donald Trump in office.”
The group said they identify as members of the "Boogaloo Boys" movement, but they stand against both Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Rather, they said they are in support of liberty.
"I don't trust any of it. I don't like any of the people there," one member added. "I mean we're having to choose between two people that want to enforce unconstitutional laws, that want to be dictators."
The Anti-Defamation League classifies the "Boogaloo Boys" as "an anti-government extremist movement" with the goal of starting a second civil war, according to their website.
The "Bois of Liberty" group obtained a permit to protest at the Capitol. They left around 2 p.m. when the permit expired.
A few scattered pro-Trump protesters also showed up on the lawn. Two said they do not believe the results of the election, and will continue to support Trump even after President-elect Joe Biden's upcoming inauguration.
"Hopefully they'll turn this around, impeach Biden and get Trump back in," said one demonstrator holding a Trump 2020 flag.
"I want government to see that they're not going to get away with this," added another.
At least one anti-Trump demonstrator was present. State officials were prepared for numbers of up to 1,000 people rallying at the Capitol on Sunday, but those crowds did not materialize.
Anderson said the security presence at the Capitol could have been a factor in deterring more demonstrators from coming.
"Having enough manpower and that show of force definitely is something that helps us," Anderson said.
He added that Utah Highway Patrol troopers and members of the National Guard will remain at the Capitol for the next few days, and the building will remain closed until "tensions and temperatures cool down.”
— Sydney Glenn (@SydneyGlennTV) January 17, 2021