About 400 people, some heavily armed, descended on the Utah statehouse on Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City. There speakers led the horde in chants and several prayers this urged a higher power to step in to stop the congressional census and confirm Biden’s victory. “We can see that thunderclouds have accumulated around us. We know there are patriots gathered in this city and across the country, ”said a kneeling man behind the microphone. “This is a battle …” he continued, “[and] While it is easy for us to feel anger, it is easy for us to feel violence and help us have an outpouring of love that will let us move on without fear. “
For the first few hours the gathering was mostly peaceful. That was up to Rick Egan, a photographer with the local newspaper The Salt Lake Tribunewas harassed and sprayed with pepper spray, an exchange that Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall described as an “attack on freedom of the press and democracy.” on twitter;; one that “must not go unchecked”.
The incident occurred when protesters had problems with Egan’s documented presence. “Look at you in your mask, you p” y, “a demonstrator told him, according to the newspaper.
“Journalism is anchored in the first amendment to our country’s constitution. And today it was tossed aside on the lawn of Utah’s Capitol. ” tribune Editor-in-chief Lauren Gustus wrote.
Even after the riot, the rally continued uninterrupted, with members of the Proud Boys as well as the locally bred Utah Citizen’s Alarm gathering on its periphery. Some sang “All life is important!” to a group of four Black Lives Matter supporters as a handful of state troops watched. At some point, a rally driver accompanied by his black German shepherd called the group “The life of black dogs is important” while another sang mockingly “Kumbaya”.
Minutes later, as the Black Lives Matter supporters drew closer to the Capitol, a proud boy yanked its signature flag away and tore it apart as he tossed the metal pole aside.
“We’re better than that,” repeated one woman, trying to soften the argument.
In the midst of the chaos, a lonely rally opponent, Ashlyn Tolman, stood in silence, holding a sign that read, “Trump has lost. Accept the confirmed results, not the conspiracy. ”
“I just think it’s important … to stand for the side you believe in – especially if it’s not well represented,” said the 17-year-old after two middle-aged women were interrupted our first interview. “You’re more patriotic than Biden,” said one of the hecklers. “I’m not for what you’re saying, but … you have more balls than Biden, I’ll tell you now.”
When asked if she was concerned for her safety, Tolman shrugged. “I’m not too worried,” she said. “People just say things against me, I don’t know, but I don’t think anyone incites … violence or anything,” she said.
“So I think I’m fine – hopefully,” Tolman concluded, crossing his fingers.