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Feds, state investigating confrontation with Secret Service outside VP debate

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Trump Tater and other Trump supporters walk toward Joe Biden supporters at 100 South and University Street as groups from both sides gather near Presidents Circle at the University of Utah prior to the vice presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and California Sen. Kamala Harris on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Public Safety is responding to a confrontation between demonstrators and two federal agents in Salt Lake City during the vice presidential debate on Wednesday.

About 8 p.m., a University of Utah golf cart being driven by two Secret Service agents was surrounded by a group of demonstrators at the corner of 400 South and University Street, according to the statement from the department.

“The demonstrators verbally harassed the Secret Service agents and took items from the golf cart. An altercation then occurred, and a Secret Service agent was assaulted. A collaborative investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Utah State Bureau of Investigation and the University of Utah Police Department.”

No one was seriously injured and the state did not release any additional details.

A cellphone video of the confrontation was posted on Facebook.

In the 1-minute, 15-second clip, a person filming the video, or close to the person filming, can be heard accusing the two agents of nearly hitting pedestrians.

“You’re trying to run over people,” one man states. “Pedestrians have the right of way. You wait ‘til they pass.”

“Yes you did,” another woman exclaims.

As the crowd encroaches on the agents, the man driving tells people, “Don’t touch me.”

The golf cart is surrounded by the angry crowd, preventing it from being able to move. The agent who was driving then gets out of the vehicle, and a short time later the video shows a number of people becoming excited and running after him as if something had just happened.

The video then shows the agent picking himself up off the ground. It is unclear in the video how he was knocked over. At least two others then stand next to the agent while others are heard saying, “Let it go.”

The agent can then be heard asking the crowd to give him his key back. The crowd then starts to disperse while yelling obscenities at the agents. No arrests were made.

Hundreds of protesters were on the streets outside Kingsbury Hall and around the University of Utah campus on Wednesday as Republican Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris debated inside.

A spokesman for the university confirmed that one person was arrested by Salt Lake police that evening for investigation of disturbing the peace. Details about that arrest, however, had not yet been released as of Friday.