Tyson Reese said he sees no reason to storm the Utah Capitol during an armed demonstration he planned for Sunday and doesn’t anticipate any sort of violence.
Yet other groups — which were represented Wednesday when hundreds gathered at the Utah Capitol on the same day a pro-Donald Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol — want nothing to do with the event.
Organizers with Utah Patriots, who’d planned a pro-gun rally at the same time as Reese’s event, canceled Tuesday and warned people to stay away because they say “bad actors” are planning to “incite violence and frame patriots for it.”
“We were informed that a separate group obtained permits prior to us,” according to an email from Utah Patriots, “and as the goals of that group are in significant conflict with our own, we do not wish to associate with them or lend credibility to their event.”
Utah Citizens’ Alarm leader Casey Robertson told The Salt Lake Tribune that its members and associates are all “all steering clear of the Capitol this weekend.” UCA members had showed up with guns at anti-police protests this summer, Robertson has said, to observe and dissuade people from violence. The group was criticized by some for intimidating activists at these protests.
Reese said his event was mischaracterized because he identifies as part of the Boogaloo movement. He said others might have taken issue with it because the rally also wasn’t in support of outgoing President Donald Trump.
Boogaloo bois, according to The New York Times, are a relatively new online-born anti-government movement. The group’s exact doctrine isn’t set.
Some, the newspaper said, identify as anti-racist. Others as white supremacists. Its members are mostly united by “extreme libertarian politics with a heavy emphasis on Second Amendment rights,” The Times reports. Plus, members are united by their uniform of Hawaiian shirts and “a willingness, if not an outright desire, to bring about the collapse of American society.”
Reese said, “Tons of people use the word Civil War when they talk about it. We don’t like that term. We don’t want to fight our fellow Americans, and strive for every peaceful option possible.”
However, he said, that he and other Boogaloos believe they must stand up against “tyranny,” or what he considers anything that gets in the way of Americans living their lives freely, such as violations of due process.
Reese said Sunday’s event, called “We are not the Enemy rally” wasn’t necessarily meant to be a Boogaloo event, but it was backed by Boogaloos. He said he hoped those who came would view it as a “morale booster,” to show that other citizens aren’t the enemy — the government is
The permit anticipated about 100 people would show up. Reese said many would be armed.
On Monday, less than a week after Trump supports rioted and breached the U.S. Capitol, ABC News reported the FBI had sent out a bulletin warning law enforcement in all 50 states of armed demonstrations at their Capitols in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The next day, Yahoo News reported from another FBI document that rallies planned for Sunday were Boogaloo-backed and could turn violent.
The Dec. 29, 2020, report warned that “some followers indicated willingness to commit violence in support of their ideology, created contingency plans in the event violence occurred at the events, and identified law enforcement security measures and possible countermeasures,” Yahoo News reported.
The Utah Highway Patrol said it is was increasing security and had decided to keep 40 troopers in Utah this weekend — instead of traveling to Washington, D.C., to help with inauguration security — because of the potential for protests here.
UHP spokesman Sgt. Nick Street said troopers had seen Utah Patriots’ message urging people to stay away from the Capitol, adding that the warning didn’t change any of their security plans for the weekend.
Salt Lake City police also released a statement about the protests planned for the Utah Capitol.
“We are working diligently with local, state and federal agencies on a safety plan,” the statement reads. “We will not allow violence from any group and we are committed to our duty to keep the peace.”