Armed groups working with police raising questions

Counterprotestors organized by Utah Citizens Alarm stand and watch as another group of protestors gather across the street in Provo on Wednesday, July 1. 2020| Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

It started with a call on social media to “back the blue” in the summer of 2020, urging Utahns to stand together in support of police to intimidate potentially violent protesters and deter them from looting and pillaging. Soon, as Eric S. Peterson reports, 20,000 members online were cheering on Utah Citizens Alarm, a group referred to as a militia by local police, which a year later continues to evolve and thrive.

According to the new report, critics worry that the organization’s relationships with police may make it something more dangerous than a typical militia: a paramilitary that operates outside the law and without the same rules of accountability as the police, potentially undermining law enforcement’s credibility and ability to do its job.

This is a collaborative story by the The Utah Investigative Journalism Project in partnership with the Deseret News.