A Hopi activist who works with Salt Lake City’s unsheltered population was taken into custody Thursday night in an arrest that he livestreamed online.
Many people who watched the video of Carl Moore’s arrest, posted on his Facebook page, commented that officers acted unreasonably and targeted him.
Moore, 44, has been volunteering at homeless encampments over the past several months.
Another volunteer, Charlee, who asked to be identified only by her first name, said Moore had a truck and trailer and would show up at encampments scheduled for abatement — what county and city leaders call the routine removal of individuals and their property from areas they’d been camping in — to help move people out.
That’s what Moore was doing Thursday at an encampment at 150 N. Cornell St. when Salt Lake City police officers arrived, Charlee said.
Moore was livestreaming the encampment cleanup when he was arrested. Video on his Facebook page shows a group of at least a half-dozen police officers approach Moore on the grassy field where people had set up tents.
One officer addressed Moore by his first name and told him to leave because he was trespassing on private property and said he would be placed under arrest if he refused.
At that point in the video, Moore turned his camera to selfie mode. The video shows the officers walking behind him as he walked away from them. He seemed calm and made jokes as they told him to go.
An officer told Moore to walk the other way and said they weren’t “playing this game today.” Moore responded “We’re playing a game?” and continued to ask about the “game” as officers told him to leave the property.
The officers told Moore again that he was trespassing. He asked them how they knew that. One officer told him he was trespassing because the area was private property. Moore then asked “whose property?” and the officer said “the city’s.”
At that point, the joking tone left Moore’s voice and he stopped and said “The city? Are you serious? The city does own this property?”
Police then appeared to touch Moore’s arms and back. He pulled away and continued to walk away from them, and he told the officers not to push him. Then police began grabbing him as he continued to walk. Moore yelled “watch this” into the camera as the police pushed him to the ground.
After a few moments of blackness onscreen, a woman yelling “Carl!” picked up the phone. She turned it off selfie mode so that the police and Moore were back onscreen. Moore was on the ground with three officers pinning him down. He can be heard yelling at the police that he was on the way to his truck.
Police told the woman who was filming to leave. She walked to her car, which was in the direction that Moore was going when he was arrested.
“I don’t know if someone can please come help me, but Carl’s truck is here and I’ve got my kids here,” she said into the camera. The woman mentioned that homeless people were loading their things into Moore’s truck.
An officer then came over and told her to move her car off the property, so she drove away. She later told people watching that Moore was walking to his truck when he was arrested. She also said the police “smacked” the phone out of Moore’s hands. The woman called someone else to tell them about the arrest and said she didn’t want to go but left because of her kids. She asked if anyone could come get Moore’s truck so it wouldn’t be impounded.
Police allege in a probable cause statement that Moore had been interfering with a health department worker at the encampment, and that they were there to get him to leave.
The statement says that after being told a few times, Moore starts to “slowly” walk away.
“We followed, keeping our hands and arms behind him so he would not turn around and return to interfere. Our arms touched his back as he chose to slow down and yell over his shoulder,” the statement says. “He became very hostile turning around rapidly to his left when this happened.”
The officer, Zachary Nold, says that Moore then hit him in the chest, and tried to hit him in the face. Then, Moore is said to have tried to walk away.
“... We attempted to take him into custody for multiple violations at this point,” the statement said. “He pulled away and had to be assisted to the ground where we had to force his hands behind his back and place him into handcuffs.”
Jail records show Moore was booked into jail on allegations of four misdemeanor offenses, including assault on a police officer and trespassing.
Moore is also a well-known local environmental activist and an advocate for Indigenous peoples. He danced in traditional Native American clothing during Salt Lake City’s first Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2017.
More recently, he’s been livestreaming his work with Salt Lake City’s homeless population.
Charlee said that officers knew Moore by name, and that the arrest was “retaliation” for those videos. She called his arrest a “moral injury” for people experiencing homelessness and those who volunteer to help them.
“It’s just really frustrating because we all see … the tireless, just tireless work that Carl does,” Charlee said. “He’s just beyond compare when it comes to advocating for the unsheltered.”
Jail records show Moore was released from jail around 8:20 p.m. without having to pay bail.
The Salt Lake City Police Department did not return a call for comment on Thursday evening.