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The defiant crowd gathers at the candlelit ceremony in the SLC to commemorate the January 6 attack on the US Capitol

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“Today, the main dividing line in American politics is neither Republican nor Democrat. It is freedom, not autocracy,” said speaker Evan McMullin.

(Niki Chan Wylie for The Salt Lake Tribune) A crowd gathers at a candlelit vigil for democracy at the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building on January 6, 2022.

Thursday’s candlelight vigil began with a pause. But even as the speakers recounted the attack on the US Capitol exactly a year ago, they didn’t sound somber – they sounded defiant.

Organizers urged crowds outside the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building in downtown Salt Lake City to remember what happened on January 6, 2021, defend democracy, and vote on November.

The mostly masked crowd of about 75 held up placards that read: “Vote non-violently” and “Stop spreading. No more lies.”

Evan McMullin, who is running for the US Senate as an independent against Republican Senator Mike Lee, said: “Today, the main line in American politics is not Not the Republican Party, but the Democratic Party. “It is freedom versus tyranny, order versus chaos, truth versus lie, and fear versus love.”

(Niki Chan Wylie for Salt Lake Tribune) Evan McMullin speaks at a candlelit vigil for democracy at the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building on January 6, 2022.

[Read more: Where Utah’s congressional delegation stand on Jan. 6 Capitol attack one year later]

Lively music played as the children climbed onto the concrete poles to get a bird’s-eye view of the attendees. One man, with his long gray hair tied in a low ponytail, said he didn’t understand why the pro-Trump red hats had the words “Make America Great Again”. He said, “When did America stop being great?”

The event’s four keynote speakers represent the entire political spectrum. McMullin spoke first, calling on people to unite on political lines against the “anti-democracy movement,” which he says is present in Utah.

He called on the rioters who broke into the Capitol to be held accountable.

Jake Hunsaker, a Republican, caused loud boos from the crowd when he mentioned Representative Burgess Owens, for whom he is running for Utah’s 4th congressional district.

(Niki Chan Wylie for Salt Lake Tribune) A crowd gathers at a candlelit vigil for democracy at the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building on January 6, 2022.

Refer to the comments that Owens did about “real men” At a right-wing conference in December, Hunsaker said, “A real man prioritizes peace over violence.”

Americans are angry and upset about what happened during the attack on the Capitol, he said, adding that nonpartisan gatherings like the one held on Thursday fill him with optimism. .

However, after the vigil, when a Tribune reporter asked Hunsaker if he thought the truth of the January 6 deadly attack was perpetrated by conservatives, he said, “very unfortunately not.” As if to support his point, a truck drove past after the ceremony ended, with a voice over the loudspeaker, “Jan. 6 was a mostly peaceful protest. “There are no obvious counter-checkers at this event.

Kael Weston, the Democrat who challenged Chris Stewart in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District in 2020, said he has been searching for headlines printed by newspapers around the world since January 6.” We need to remember that that day will reflect on us for a long time,” he said.

The final speaker — author and activist Darlene McDonald — spoke directly to the crowd when she said, “We’re not here because we hate America. We are here because we are Americans. We are not here because we want America to fail. We’re here because we want America to live up to its promise.”

The vigil ended with an organizer calling attendees to vote. Before dispersing into the night, the crowd answered with a resounding “yes”.

https://www.sltrib.com/news/2022/01/06/defiant-crowd-gathers/ The defiant crowd gathers at the candlelit ceremony in the SLC to commemorate the January 6 attack on the US Capitol

Yasmin Harisha

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