SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, June 2, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake City riot police, backed by members of the Utah National Guard, squared off with protesters again Monday night in downtown Salt Lake and at the State Capitol, but the level of violence and property damage paled in comparison to the intensity of Saturday’s protest.
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.
In a protracted game of cat-and-mouse, squads of heavily armed officers made their way through alleys and side streets tracking the potential troublemakers.
Police said some of those who left the main protest actually appeared to have changed clothes.
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.
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.
Police have yet to announce the number of arrests or the amount of property damage done.
Gephardt Daily will update this story as more information is made available.