SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, June 2, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Police arrested a total of 18 people during Monday night protests in downtown Salt Lake and at the State Capitol.
“We arrested 16 people, two of which were juveniles; Utah Highway Patrol arrested two people,” said a tweet from SLCPD. “The majority of arrests were for failure to disperse.”
Salt Lake City PD released a statement early Monday night, saying one demonstrator had been arrested carrying a loaded handgun. Police also shared photos of an armored vehicle with its windows shattered.
The demonstration, organized over social media by the group Party for Socialism and Liberation, began about 6 p.m., when police began receiving reports of large crowds gathering downtown near the site of Saturday’s upheaval.
As the number of demonstrators began to swell, police moved quickly to stay ahead of the crowds, blocking streets and pedestrian traffic for several square blocks.
While the majority of protesters massed near the city’s Public Safety Building, the City Library and Washington Square, police paid close attention to smaller groups of people who left the main protest and made their way into the downtown area.
At 8 p.m. police informed the crowds the city’s newly imposed curfew was in effect. They were told to disband or risk arrest and most appeared to comply. Hundreds of others, however, made their way to the perimeter of the Utah statehouse where they were met by dozens of baton-wielding UHP officers.
A military chopper circled overhead.
When the crowd refused to disperse, officers moved on them, knocking demonstrators to the ground.
The seemingly stunned protesters moved back down State Street and marched into downtown, where approximately 200 soon found themselves surrounded by police near South Temple and State Street.
After a few tense moments, organizers asked if the crowd could simply go home and police agreed.
Several protesters decided to defy the curfew order and were taken into custody without incident.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced a new curfew for all of Salt Lake City beginning Monday, June 1, extending through Monday, June 8, it was announced soon before the protest began.
The curfew will begin each evening at 8 p.m. and end at 6 a.m. each morning, said a news release from the Mayor’s Office.
During the curfew, people are asked to stay off of public streets and sidewalks and out of parks and other public spaces, with some exceptions.
“The decision to continue a curfew here in Salt Lake City was not made lightly,” Mendenhall said. “But as we’ve seen throughout the country, the valid frustration many people feel continues to exhibit itself beyond the bounds of peaceful discourse. While Salt Lake City respects and understands the anger people legitimately feel, and welcomes the presence of peaceful protests, the safety of our city, our public safety officers, and our residents must come first.”
SLC Police Chief Mike Brown added: “It is with a heavy heart that we enact another curfew. I hope and pray it is the last, and that we can do the hard work of building a better city together.”
The mayor’s decision to establish the new curfew was arrived at in consultation with Brown and Governor Gary Herbert.
“The city prides itself on protecting the right of people to peaceably assemble and protest as one of the pillars of democracy,” the news release said. “All peaceful gatherings and protests are welcomed during non-curfew hours but attendees are urged to gather in small groups and take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
During the hours of curfew, people may not be on a public street or in any public place with the following exceptions:
- All law enforcement, fire paramedics or other medical personnel, Utah National Guard, as well as any other emergency response personnel authorized by Salt Lake City, and credentialed members of the media.
- Individuals traveling directly to and from work; attending religious services; obtaining food; caring for a family member, friend or animal; traveling directly to and from the Salt Lake City International Airport; patronizing private businesses including but not limited to merchants and restaurants; seeking medical care, fleeing dangerous circumstances, or experiencing homelessness.
- Any person to whom permission by authorized Salt Lake City officials is specifically granted.
Herbert has also issued an Executive Order early Monday evening declaring a State of Emergency due to civil unrest. This order will temporarily close the State Capitol complex to the public. The order is effective immediately, and the capitol campus will remain closed until Saturday, June 6 at 11:59 p.m.
Official state business will continue at the Capitol building throughout the closure. The building has been closed to the public since March 14 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
View the full Executive Order here.
Gephardt Daily will update this story as more information is made available.