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Anti-private prison protesters disrupt Utah Democratic Party election

On Saturday, as the Utah Democratic Party attempted to elect a vice chair, a protest broke out while one of the nominees — Jane Marquardt — tried three times to give her speech to delegates.

As seen on this video posted Tuesday, Salt Lake County Mayor-elect Ben McAdams and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill try to nominate Marquardt for the position only to have protesters shout her down at the event.

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At one point in the video, Utah Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis tells one of the protesters shouting questions at Marquardt "You’re not welcome here" and the protesters are booed loudly by the Democrats inside the University of Utah’s School of Business.

After the disturbances, the room was cleared and only credentialed delegates were allowed back in to vote for vice chair. After two ballots, Marquardt lost to Josie Valdez.

Police were also called to the disturbance, but no charges were pressed during the raucous affair.

The protesters were part of a group that objected to Marquardt’s links to the private prison industry — in this case Management and Training Corporation, which is billed as the third largest company that operates private adult corrections facilities.

She is listed as a Vice Chair of MTC on the Utah Democrats website.

According to the MTC website, they operate private prisons in Arizona, California, Idaho, Ohio, New Mexico, Mississippi and Texas and houses 29,534 prisoners at their sites.

The seven-minute video was posted by SLCPrisonDivestment and helpfully includes captions to see what the protesters were yelling as the crowd tried to shout them down.

The election was to replace Jim Judd, the Utah Democratic Party vice chairman who died earlier this year.

— David Montero

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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