SALT LAKE CITY — Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney met Wednesday with Utah National Guard soldiers deployed to Washington, D.C., to help deal with protests over the death of a black man in police custody, as a left-leaning group in Utah urged the governor to call the troops home.
Also Wednesday, Romney criticized the Trump administration for clearing nonviolent protesters across from the White House so President Donald Trump could stand for a photo op outside a church that was vandalized.
The killing of George Floyd in Minnesota last week has sparked civil unrest and violent protests around the nation, including in Salt Lake City, with the president warning earlier this week that governors should use National Guard troops to “dominate” protestors or he would send in the U.S. military.
Gov. Gary Herbert sent 200 Utah National Guard members to the nation’s capital on Monday at Trump’s request to help civilian authorities around the D.C. Metro area preserve life, protect property and restore peace, according to a National Guard press release.
The governor’s office said in a statement Wednesday evening that Herbert’s deployment of the National Guard will continue in Utah as well as Washington, D.C., despite the Alliance for a Better Utah saying the troops should be recalled.
On Wednesday, the Alliance for a Better Utah called on Herbert to recall Utah National Guard soldiers in Salt Lake City as well as those he deployed to Washington, D.C.
Chase Thomas, Better Utah executive director, said it’s alarming that Utah soldiers are being used by the federal government to support its forceful shutdown of peaceful protests in the nation’s capital.
“We all watched in disbelief as peaceful protestors were driven from the White House before curfew with gas canisters, rubber bullets, and flash-bang grenades. In response, neighboring Arlington County, Virginia, pulled out its troops from the District. We call on Gov. Herbert to uphold the constitutional rights of protestors and do the same,” he said in a statement.