In this file photo, pro-Trump protesters storm the US Capitol complex in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021 | Photo by Brett Davis/Flickr via Public News Service, St. George News
ST. GEORGE-A new report outlines ways local government officials in Utah and elsewhere can fend off threats of the kind from radical anti-democratic groups that have stormed the US Capitol.
It’s been just over a year since violent extremists rioted in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
The report, released by the Western States Center, explores ways city, county and state leaders can strengthen themselves against paramilitary groups and white nationalists, who are gaining ground.
Lindsay Schubiner, momentum program director at the Center, said much of the animosity was aimed at local officials.
“It’s really dangerous,” Schubiner stressed. “Threats, intimidation and political violence undermine the democratic process and can make it difficult for communities to participate in this process.
Schubiner pointed out that community leaders are often on the front lines of countering violent movements. The report argues that elected officials and policy makers must make it clear that they reject bigotry and authoritarian movements.
Utah has seen its share of extremism in recent years. State Police and National Guard troops were deployed Jan. 6 to protect the Utah Capitol after Donald Trump supporters and counter-protesters rallied. The guard was also called out after groups clashed at a 2020 Black Lives Matter rally in Salt Lake City.
Schubiner argued that communities need to form broad coalitions.
“It’s one of the most important things local leaders can do,” Schubiner said. “Build the political will to directly denounce bigotry and anti-democracy movements and work to defend inclusive democratic institutions.”
She believes that other levels of government must contribute to this effort.
“I would also like to see a lot more support at the local level from state and federal institutions committed to championing inclusive democracy,” Schubiner insisted.
The Utah Department of Public Safety has created and tasked a Threat Management Unit to share information and intelligence with local authorities regarding threats to the public and critical infrastructure.
Written by MARK RICHARDSON, producer for Utah News Connection.
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