Salt Lake City police searching for man alleged to have ‘forcefully’ tried to take camera during protest

Photos Courtesy: SLCPD

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 18, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake City police officials are searching for a man who allegedly tried to “forcefully” take a news camera from a member of the media during a protest.

“Do you know me?” the Salt Lake City Police Department tweeted Thursday afternoon. “We are trying to identify this individual. During a protest on July 9, 2019 he attempted to forcefully take a news camera from a media photographer who was filming an altercation. If you know who this is please call 801-799-3000 case 19-124550.”

Community activists staged a news conference blaming Salt Lake City police for the violence that occurred Tuesday during a building-occupation protest of Salt Lake City’s proposed inland port, and police fired back some six hours later in a news conference of their own.

“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 were 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.

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

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.

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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 occurred, Brown said.

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

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.

The man police are searching for appears to be Caucasian and was wearing a black and gray baseball cap, a royal blue T-shirt and possibly a red scarf around his neck.

Anyone who has information about the individual but would like to remain anonymous, can call the number above or text crime tips to 274637. Start the text with the keyword TIPSLCPD (which routes it to SLCPD), then a space, followed by the relevant information or photos. Reference: crimetip.

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