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Mayor apologizes for arrest; 70-year-old owner of brown lawn wants to move

Published July 10, 2007 9:49 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Posted: 9:52 AM- OREM - A woman who was injured and arrested during a struggle with a police officer over her brown lawn said she wants to move.

"Since this has happened, I don't want to live in Orem anymore," Betty Perry said Monday. "I know now that I'll never see another winter" in the Utah County city.

Perry, 70, refused to give her name to an officer who visited Friday to issue a ticket for failing to take care of her front yard. She fell and hurt her nose as he tried to arrest her.

Perry was taken to a jail, where she spent more than an hour before officials decided custody was inappropriate. The officer, whose name has not been released, was suspended.

"What happened was not the way that we prefer to do business," Lt. Doug Edwards said. "But clearly she did some things that were wrong, too, in not just saying her name."

Mayor Jerry Washburn apologized to Perry. He said city law requires residents to maintain their yards and keep them free of junk, but few tickets have been issued for brown lawns.

He said the officer who was at Perry's house belonged to a unit that typically deals with drug houses and other illegal activity in neighborhoods.

"That is not our policy to go around and enforce green lawns," the mayor said.

Perry said she can't afford to water her grass.

"I want people to know that this is not American to handcuff and put somebody in jail because their lawn is brown," she said.