Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Proud Boys and Lives Matter supporters fights at Utah rally

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As pro-Trump extremists, which President-elect Joe Biden later would label “domestic terrorists”, laid siege to the Capitol building on Wednesday, similar “Save America” gatherings erupted across several US cities, from Atlanta, GA, to Topeka, KS — albeit on a less grand scale. Some 2,000 miles away from DC, Utah’s sleepy capital city — which as of late only pierces the national dialogue bubble when Mitt Romney or Real Housewives-related news ensues — also bore witness to a of its own.

Atop Salt Lake City’s Capitol Hill, approximately 400 people, some heavily armed, descended upon the statehouse. There, speakers led the horde in chants and several prayers that urged a higher power to intervene in stopping Congress’ electoral count to confirm Biden’s victory. “We recognize that storm clouds have gathered around us. We recognize that patriots are gathered in this city and throughout the country,” a kneeling man behind the mic said. “This is a battle…” he continued, “[and] though it is easy for us to feel anger, it’s easy for us to feel violence, help us to have an outpouring of love that lets us go forth without fear.”

During its first couple of hours, the gathering was a mostly peaceful affair. That was until Rick Egan, a photographer with local daily The Salt Lake Tribune, was harassed and pepper-sprayed, an exchange that Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall called an “attack on freedom of press and democracy” on Twitter; one that “should not be allowed to go unchecked.”

“Journalism is enshrined in the First Amendment of our country’s Constitution. And today on the lawn of Utah’s Capitol it was tossed aside,” Tribune executive editor, Lauren Gustus, wrote.

Even after the fracas, the rally went on uninterrupted, with members of the Proud Boys, as well as the locally bred Utah Citizen’s Alarm, gathered around its periphery, some chanting “All !” to a group of four Black Lives Matter as a handful of state troopers looked on. At one point, one rally-goer accompanied by his German Shepherd began shouting, “Black dogs’ lives matter” at the group, while another sarcastically sang “Kumbaya.”

Minutes later, as Black Lives Matter supporters made their way closer to the Capitol building, one Boy ripped away their signature flag, ripping it apart while tossing its metal pole to the side.

“We’re better than this,” a woman trying to temper the altercation kept repeating.

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