Salt Lake City Police chief fires back after protester organizers blame officers for violence

Chief Brown Releases information and body cam from protest

Posted by SLC Police on Thursday, July 11, 2019

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 11, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Six hours after community activists staged a news conference blaming Salt Lake City police for the violence that occured Tuesday during a building-occupation protest of Salt Lake City’s proposed inland port, police fired back.

“Numerous times, we talked and dialogued with those protesters, asking them to leave,” SLCPD Chief Mike Brown said at a 3 p.m. Tuesday news conference. “When that was done, there was probably 40 to 60 on the sixth floor, about 80 percent of them left. After that, there were some that refused, and that’s where some of the arrests did occur.”

“Our officers were spit on, scratched, kicked, punched, and had bottles and different items thrown at them,” Brown said.

The chief then showed a video clip from an officer’s body camera that documented the wearer asking protesters to leave, and being ignored by most in the office setting. Some protesters sang and chanted as they clanged metal objects together. Others recorded video of the police. Others seemed to just avoid eye contact.

The officer wearing the body camera then told protesters they had to leave.

“Listen, there’s no reason to go to jail for this,” he said, adding that officials were “trying to be cool” and had allowed the protest to continue for 15 or 20 minutes so participants could express feelings.

The video showed that at that point, more protesters joined in the chanting, which became louder.

Brown, who said he did not see the news conference staged at 9 a.m. by protest organizers, shared numbers with reporters on the scene.

  • Police were called to the scene by employees of the Chamber of Commerce, he said, and arrived at 2:17 p.m. Tuesday.
  • In all, 119 body camera videos of the incident have been downloaded, Brown said.
  • Seventy-five Salt Lake City Police officers responded to the scene of the protest.
  • About 40 to 60 protesters were found occupying sixth floor offices. More than 100 protesters were in the lobby, and some protesters were on the roof.
  • Ten arrests were made, more than the original report of eight arrests. Eight were made inside the building, and two were made outside.
  • “We have six officers with documented assaults,” Brown said.

Brown already has initiated an Internal Affairs audit to review the conduct of officers, he said. The Citizens Review Board will be asked to review evidence in the case.

And criminal investigations will be conducted in all cases in which assaults and destruction of property occured, Brown said.

“There’s a huge difference between public and private property, and that was private property,” he said.

Brown said his department is known for transparency, and results of the various reviews will be shared.

“There was a lot of restraint, a lot of officers asking people for voluntary compliance,” he said of the recordings he has reviewed.

Salt Lake City Police have a history of protecting peaceful protesters, Brown said.

“It’s been a hallmark of our society that we protect these rights,” he said.

Brown said that assault on officers, citizens or members of the news media would not be tolerated, nor would destruction of property.

“If you want to come to Salt Lake City and express your views, do it in a respectful, lawful manner.”

To read about protester organizers’ complaints against SLCPD officers, and the activists’ stated reason for staging the Tuesday event, click here.

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