DA’s Office files criminal charges after July protest of Inland Port in SLC

Officers from the Salt Lake City Police Department and other agencies responded to the scene of a volatile protest of the planned Inland Port on July 9, 2019. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Oct. 21, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday it has filed charges against 10 people for conduct during the July 9 Utah Inland Port protest at the Utah State Chamber of Commerce building.

“These individuals are charged with counts of riot, criminal trespass, and other various charges,” said a news release from the District Attorney Sim Gill’s office.

“Our office reviewed wide-ranging and vast amounts of evidence, including body camera footage, cell phone footage, surveillance footage, and media footage. We also carefully considered the sometimes difficult but crucial distinction between lawful protest, which is protected by the First Amendment, and the criminal conduct of specific individuals, which is not.”

The news release added: “These are allegations; everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

As Gephardt Daily reported on July 9 of this year, police responded to the downtown area after dozens of people protesting Utah’s Inland Port spilled out of the City and County Building and into the nearby building that houses the Chamber of Commerce.

Detective Greg Wilking, Salt Lake City Police Department, said at the scene that protesters filled the lobby, with some going upstairs and several becoming abusive.

“Our officers were dispatched and arrived, and there were several people that were up in the office that wouldn’t disperse,” Wilking said. “Some of those people were actually arrested…. In this case, they took it a little too far.”

Probable cause statements provided by officers at the scene stated: “Officers informed all the protesters on the sixth floor that they were conducting an unlawful assembly and they needed to leave, or they would be arrested. Many of the protesters left the sixth floor at this point, but a large number remained.”

One of the officer’s statements said there were more than 200 protesters in the building, and “he also received reports there were approximately 50 protesters on the sixth floor of the building and the employees did not feel safe.”

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Another officer reported some of the protesters were jumping on the reception desk on the sixth floor.

One protester, while he was being arrested, attempted to kick officers, the statement said, and had to be placed on a gurney, handcuffed, after he refused to walk to a patrol car.

Other protesters linked themselves together using cylinders covering their wrists and hands, known as a “sleeping dragon.” These protesters had to be separated so they could be arrested, a statement said.

One officer wrote in a statement that he saw another officer get pulled into the crowd, where he was “immediately attacked by several individuals who were throwing punches at him and kicking him.”

In the main lobby of the building, protesters were yelling “F*** the police” and spat on officers, a statement said.

The company tasked with cleanup at the Chamber of Commerce building stated that clean-up cost approximately $7,000; $5,000 of that bill was for cleaning on the sixth floor, while $2,000 was for cleaning the lobby and stairwell of the building. A total of $2,000 was charged for window cleaning as “something had been smeared all over the windows,” the statement said.

An assault also took place across the street from the building, in the area of 200 E. 400 South, immediately after the protest, a statement said.

Several downtown streets were closed to traffic while officers worked to regain control of the situation.

The Inland Port is a huge import-export center being planned for the western area of Salt Lake City, taking up as much as a third of the land. The project has become highly controversial. Critics say it would be bad for the environment and air quality, and would take up too much land, among other things.

To read the full probable cause statements, click here.

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