A car with a Utah Gun Exchange sticker on the back was vandalized Saturday night outside the town hall where student survivors of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting spoke about their national movement for gun reform.
The car’s owner reported to police at 10 p.m. — about an hour after the event ended — that someone had scratched several lines and the word “f---ers” into the paint on the side of his vehicle.
“It’s large enough to read at a distance,” said Sandy police Sgt. Jason Nielsen.
There are currently no suspects, he added, but police are asking anyone with information on the vandalism or who saw anything suspicious in the parking lot of the Mountain America Expo Center to reach out.
More than 1,000 people attended the town hall Saturday night, which was largely peaceful despite sometimes-tense exchanges between local student organizers with March for Our Lives SLC and members of Utah Gun Exchange (an online gun marketplace).
About 30 pro-gun activists remained outside during the town hall to protest, with signs quoting the Second Amendment and America’s forefathers. Some had handguns on their hips and were barred from entering the building (where firearms were not allowed). Many wore white T-shirts with the logo of the Utah Gun Exchange, which had encouraged its members to attend the gathering.
The company’s executives, too, have recently taken a military-style armored vehicle across the country to follow the Parkland students on tour (though they did not bring the car Saturday). They did not immediately return a call for comment Monday.
The day after a Salt Lake Tribune article detailed those efforts, Larry H. Miller Megaplex Theatres pulled out of an agreement to host the survivors’ town hall, fearing “a potentially contentious situation.”
The student-led forum kicked off its Q&A portion by giving Sam Robinson, co-owner of the Utah Gun Exchange, the first question. While he noted that he was there “to ensure that there’s an alternative point of view,” Robinson suggested that the two groups work together to find common ground.
Madalena McNeil, who advises the group of teens involved with the Utah movement, said she hopes the graffiti doesn’t “damage the relationship” the two groups have been trying to form.
“It concerns us in the sense that if the car was targeted because of that sticker, that’s not something we condone,” she said. “We really are trying, just like I know the leadership of Utah Gun Exchange is.”
The Utah students, too, McNeil said, received death threats before the town hall. They have not filed any police reports yet but are considering it.