While Saturday’s unrest drew hordes of demonstrators to downtown Salt Lake City and spurred innumerable staredowns and physical clashes between police and protesters, two altercations grabbed much of the attention Sunday.
The first: A man who drove his vehicle into the crowd and pulled out a bow and arrow, which he allegedly aimed at protesters.
The second: A police officer, decked out in riot gear, who knocked over an elderly man with a cane while he was standing on a sidewalk by the Main Library.
Both were captured on video.
The Salt Lake City Police Department is investigating both confrontations.
When officers saw the man with the bow being assaulted, Chief Mike Brown said in a video message Sunday afternoon, their first thought was for his safety. So they pulled him out of the crowd, offered aid and ascertained his identity.
Protesters flipped over the man’s car, which caught on fire and burned.
In a posted video, the man, identified as Brandon McCormick, responded to a stranger who asked him if he calls himself an American with: “Yes, I’m American. All lives matter.” Immediately afterward, he lifted his hunting bow and aimed an arrow at those around him.
Later, McCormick found himself giving a television interview with FOX 13. In it, he said he was there to protect police with the weapons he had and described how he was targeted for saying “all lives matter” and beaten through his open window.
McCormick, whose Facebook page says he lives in Salt Lake City but is originally from Barstow, Calif., has shared his views before on Facebook, posting racist memes and even talking about wanting to go back in time to “take out” former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when they were “in the crib.”
In a May 21 post, McCormick shared with his followers that "if you didn’t grow up during the cold war and or you and or your anaesters [ancestors] are here ileagely [illegally]. You shouldn’t be alloud [allowed] to vote!!!!” (Bracketed spellings have been corrected.)
On Sunday morning, Brown said the man showing up with this weapon was “troubling" and a “horrible situation.”
Police are asking those who witnessed the episode to contact them as they screen charges against the man. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said the man would be charged.
In Sunday afternoon’s update, Brown also addressed the episode in which the elderly man was knocked down. After examining video footage, Brown said the officer has been identified.
“I have seen the video," the chief said, “and it was inappropriate.”
Brown did not name the officer nor state whether the officer had been suspended.
“It’s not OK,” the mayor told The Salt Lake Tribune of the incident. “It seems to be well outside the protocol, and it’s being investigated.”
Brown said the department will follow its procedures, which includes an investigation by internal affairs, as well as a review by the Civilian Review Board. A recommendation then will be made upon completion.
“I want to say this is not what I would expect from Salt Lake City PD,” Brown said. “My expectations are, that if people are exercising their First Amendment rights, we give them the space to do so peacefully. I have spoken to this gentleman to express my concern for his well-being and to apologize to him personally. It was hard for me to watch what happened, and I know it was even harder for him to experience it.”
Brown emphasized that he was “relieved that there were no fatalities” during Saturday’s unrest.
“My heart aches for the pain caused and insecure feelings that we have experienced over the last 24 hours here in Salt Lake City," he said in his video message. "We understand that this insecure feeling pales in comparison to the overarching original reason for the protest. We reiterate our commitment to stamping out systemic racism.”
— Tribune reporter Nate Carlisle contributed to this story.